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UNMC and primary care practitioners launch project focused on healthy behaviors

In an effort to improve the health of their communities, practitioners from six rural Nebraska towns came together with metropolitan practitioners and faculty from the University of Nebraska Medical Center to launch a project focused on encouraging healthy behaviors.

The research project is aimed at understanding factors that lead to obesity and ways to reverse it.

It is supported by two grants totaling $150,000 from the Rural Futures Institute and the Nebraska Medical Association.  

The group met Dec. 20 in Omaha at the Aksarben Marriott Hotel to discuss the mid-to late-January launch of the project.

If successful the data collected will be used to obtain additional funding to work on other primary care practice based projects that will bring physicians together in a network that will allow them to collaborate and discuss challenges facing their communities and find solutions together.

“These doctors are on the front lines of primary care in Nebraska,” said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research at UNMC. “As health care reform continues to impact them and their patients, we are looking for ways to provide resources and build collaborations that will enhance their practice and improve the health of Nebraskans.”

One way to do that is to identify the best solutions that make sense for Nebraska, she said.

The physicians working on this initial project determined that weight management is a critical issue for their communities based on its broad impact on patient health. Getting patients involved in their own health is often critical to changing health outcomes, Dr. Larsen said.

She said doctors will be assessing patient activation or how engaged a patient is and whether that correlates with health as well as their patients’ thoughts on what might help or hinder them with weight management.

“There is increasing evidence that if a patient isn’t ‘activated’ they are less likely to make changes in their health,” Dr. Larsen said. “If we find out who is or isn’t activated, then we can better identify strategies to get them involved so they will make behavioral changes that benefit their health and well-being.”

Below is a listing of participants in alphabetical order by hometown:

Bellevue: Life Care Family Medicine - Brian Finley, M.D., Jacqueline Wells, M.D., Jeff Kasselman, M.D., Cassie Krause, APRN, Connie Daniel, APRN

Crete: Crete Area Medical Center - Jason Hesser, M.D., Kate Hesser, M.D., Russell Ebke, M.D., Troy Miller, M.D., Tammy Schroeder, APRN, Kurt Schmeckpepper, PA-C, Kim McMillan, PA-C

David City: Butler County Clinic - Gerald Luckey, M.D., Mark Carlson, M.D., Victor Thoendel, M.D., Matthew Summers, M.D., Leah Hays, PA-C

Fremont: 23rd Family Med - Milo Anderson, M.D., Monty Sellon, M.D., Paul Glowacki, M.D., Andrew Opp, M.D., Bryce Exstrom, PA-C, Katy Stenger, MPA-C, Lisa Stenvers, PA-C, Cheri Mues, APRN

Geneva: Fillmore County Medical Center - Jason Bespalec, M.D., Jeff Hollis, M.D., Aaron Lanik, M.D., Alanna Beckman, M.D., Michelle Dorsey, PA-C, Marirose Fox, PA-C, Russ Coasch, PA-C, Keri Miller, PA-C, Dani Jaeger, PA-C

Holdrege: Family Medicine Specialties - Scott Ehresman, M.D., William Sandy, M.D., Thomas Smith, M.D., Charlotte Wirges, M.D., Jeffrey Berney, M.D., Shane Smith, M.D., Charles Christie, PA-C, Connie Lans, PA-C, Katie Luthy, PA-C, Madison Nott, PA-C, Jody Pfeifer, PA-C

Omaha: Toby Free, M.D., Robert Schwab, M.D., Doug Inciarte, M.D., and Jason Patera, M.D., all four are with Nebraska Medicine, UNMC’s primary hospital partner.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.

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