MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsCatalyst PDF FileMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause

MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


Meducare buddies team up for weight loss

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
The staff of MUSC-Meducare are known for their quick response and teamwork in supporting their everyday mission of caring for and transporting patients. Within this group of top notch critical care paramedics, dispatchers, emergency medical technicians, flight nurses and transport staff is a cadre of men and women who’ve made the choice of mastering their health destinies by adopting lifestyle changes that will lead to healthier lives.
For almost two years, 10 Meducare employees committed themselves to losing weight and keeping it off. The idea was part of a domino effect begun by Meducare nurse manager Melissa Feather, R.N., and Russell Ward, Meducare Ground Services, which expanded to eight others, including critical care paramedics Jackie Roper and Susan Dew. One-by-one these employees committed to MUSC Weight Management Center’s Focus Program, a 15-week intensive change program that focuses on moderate weight loss through healthy eating featuring meal supplements, exercise and nutrition education. The team worked closely with Josh Brown, Ph.D., director of clinical services at the Weight Management Center.
“At first I didn’t notice the pattern of Meducare employees who were coming in for consultation,” said Brown. “Then I saw they were trickling in—one-by-one. Eventually I saw a lot of motivation among employees throughout the program. What they eventually did was establish an environment at work that promoted healthy eating behaviors and support through positive interaction and activity.”
Within eight months, Feather, who was pre-diabetic at the start of the program, lost 45 pounds. Ward, who was able to cut his cholesterol medications in half by February, shed more than 35 pounds. Roper and Dew, who joined the effort last April, each were 40 pounds lighter and still losing pounds and inches.
“I knew I wanted to do something,” said Feather, who committed to the Focus program in spring 2007 and is now pregnant. “Like many people, I made it my New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I tried them all, but this program was different. I was ready for a certain level of commitment that I knew I was capable of following. The program gave me the right tools, motivation and support to succeed.”
Like most people, Feather, Ward and the others learned about food choices and the value of portion control. For the first eight weeks, they incorporated meal replacements such as nutrition bars, shakes and other products into their diets. As a group, they shared bars, shakes, recipes, blenders and other equipment at their second-floor office located at Charleston Memorial Hospital. They learned the positive effects of proper hydration—substituting two liters of water daily for soda. During the last eight weeks of the program, participants transitioned from eating supplements to more whole foods.
“The program taught me the proper way of recognizing hunger and eating right to fulfill that,” Feather said. “I learned to listen to my body.”
Meducare Focus participants also attended weekly weigh-ins and nutritional/education classes with either Brown, a dietitian, exercise physiologist or other Weight Management team specialist. To help realize their daily progress, participants charted their weight using graphs and recorded their meals using food diaries to assist in their long-term success. They also discussed issues, focused on goals and shared ideas for changing behaviors connected with poor habits such as stress eating.
In addition to learning about proper food and nutrition, they engaged in regular exercise and other physical activities. Participants were given a pedometer and challenged to walk 10,000 steps a day. Feather and Ward enjoyed the challenge of purposely walking a little out of the way to meetings at other locations around campus. Roper, who works the evening shift, joined the Summerville YMCA and included walking, bike rides and rowing into her fitness routine.
Currently, the group is in maintenance mode. Some are happy with their progress while others are determined to continue toward their weight loss goals. Brown stated, “We spend so much of our lives at our jobs, so working in an environment that appreciates and promotes weight management and health greatly facilitates successful long-term weight control. Let’s all do what we can to encourage the health of our work community.”
“This is one of the easiest and hardest weight loss programs I’ve participated in,” said Dew. “It demands a lot of one’s time and effort in learning about foods, making choices and shopping. I feel great, and I’m glad I did it.”
For information, contact MUSC Weight Management Center, 792-CARE or

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.