Be Well ColoradoCuts Healthcare Costs by Giving Participants
New Tools to Manage Diabetes and Other Chronic Health Conditions
Proven peer-led six-week Aurora workshop available free;
Helps participants feel better, live longer and remain independent
(DENVER, Colo.) – Diagnosed with diabetes 20 years ago, Salvador Hernandez had slowly suffered
deteriorating vision and an impaired ability to walk. While the Denver man had medical care, he lacked
the skills and knowledge to manage his condition.
“We didn’t know what to expect as the years go by. It’s been a hard road for us, not having classes and
education,” his wife Sylvia Hernandez said. “When you don’t understand what’s happening, you get
stressed out and there are a lot of uncertainties.”
The Hernandez family is not alone. Nearly one in two Americans live with a chronic health condition.
Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and lung disease are the
leading killers of Coloradans. Living with a chronic health condition can diminish a person’s outlook on
life, ability to engage in physical and social activity, interest in cooking and eating healthy meals, and
willingness to ask for help.
That’s why the couple enrolled in Be Well Colorado,a six-week, peer-led chronic disease self-management
workshop based on a proven model developed at Stanford University. After just six weeks, the couple felt
more in control, hopeful and confident in their understanding of diabetes and how to manage it.
“At this program, you learn how focus on the goals that are important to you,” said Dr. Carolyn
Shepherd, medical director of Clinica Family Health Services, which has run chronic disease self-management programs. “Maybe the most important thing to you is to have the energy to enjoy your
grandkids. But when you learn those skills, they impact every other part of your life.”
“It’s a very good thing,” Sylvia said. “If the classes are offered in your area, learn more, take advantage of
Offered free in to anyone with a chronic health condition or their caregivers, Be Well Colorado gives
participants the tools they need to set achievable goals, reduce stress, eat healthier foods and increase
their physical activity. People who complete the workshops have more energy, engage in more social
activities, gain confidence, improve communication with doctors and family members, and develop an
overall sense of empowerment.
The next Aurora workshop starts in May at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 13120 East Kentucky
Avenue, Aurora, Colo., 80012.
“The hardest part of living with a chronic health condition is feeling like you have no control over your
life,” said Michelle Hansen, director of the self-management services unit, Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment. “Be Well Colorado workshops help people learn how to manage their
condition. We give people their lives back.”
Impact of chronic health conditions
In Adams County, one in three adults, or 32 percent of the county’s adults, have high cholesterol, which
can lead to heart problems. One in five adults, or 21 percent of the county’s adults, have arthritis; and
one in five adults, or 20 percent of the county’s adults, have high blood pressure. Nine percent of Adams
County adults have asthma and 7 percent have diabetes.
Health care costs associated with the treatment of a chronic health condition are expensive, accounting
for 75 percent of the more than $2 trillion a year spent on health care in the U.S. In Colorado, caring
for chronic health conditions costs the state’s Medicaid program an estimated $403 million a year. The
Be Well Colorado program reduces hospitalizations and physician visits, saving up to $4 for every dollar
Be Well Coloradois promoted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and funded
by federal grants from the Administration on Aging and the Division of Diabetes Translation. For more
information, visit www.bewellcolorado.orgor call 1-877-495-2604.
About Be Well Colorado
Be Well Coloradoworkshops help people with chronic health conditions feel better and maintain active,
independent lives. Using a curriculum developed at Stanford University in 1991, the Be Well Colorado
workshops teach concrete steps such as goal setting, creating action plans, healthy eating and exercise
and how to communicate. Offered at no cost to participants, the workshops are led by peers and
encourage participation and mutual support, building participants’ confidence.
Studies show that graduates of the program feel better, exercise more and talk more comfortably about
their health. The program also cuts health care costs, reducing hospitalizations and physician visits and
saving up to $4 for every dollar invested. In 2011, the Colorado Department of Public Health and
Environment will offer 58 Be Well Coloradoworkshops in select Colorado counties across the state.