The Great Slimdown program meets patients where they’re at through a supportive, patient-centered approach
With summer comes the impulse to get out and enjoy the sun and move our bodies more—swimming, running, biking, hiking. For some people, excess weight may affect their ability to enjoy these activities or their comfort with completing everyday tasks. Hennepin Healthcare’s The Great Slim-Down team meets these patients where they are, with an approach that treats obesity through nutrition, behavior adjustments, physical activity, and medication therapy.
The program’s creator, Natalie Ikeman, PA-C, has a certificate in obesity medicine and practices evidence-based medicine for obesity management. She says, “My goal is to meet patients where they’re at, learn about their medical history, their weight history and really take a patient-centered approach.”
This means cutting through the stigma about obesity and the myths around it—using patient-centered language and making sure patients understand that weight is not just about their willpower or lifestyle but genetic and hormonal differences, too.
“The number on the scale is just a piece of the puzzle,” Natalie says. The team includes other health metrics—like blood pressure, glucose, and metabolic panels—as they measure patients’ process through the twelve-month program. The interdisciplinary team works one-on-one with each patient to set goals and develop an individualized plan. If it’s medically appropriate, they use an underused weight management tool—FDA-approved medication.
Many of the patients Natalie sees are Hennepin Healthcare employees. In just one department, employees who participated in the Great Slim Down lost a total of 343 pounds earlier this year!
One of the clinic’s patients, Angela Webb, lost 73 pounds over the past six months. She attributes her success to the comprehensive approach of The Great Slim Down Program.
“They supported me during some of the challenging times and offered me tools to help me make changes to my lifestyle,” she said. “The program helped me understand that my obesity was not 100% my fault; I had so many other factors against me. This made me feel less guilty about who I was and that I had the support of this program to help change my overall thinking of food.”
As people improve their health, their energy and outlook improves, Natalie says. That’s good for our individual team members—and the benefits spill over to patients, too: “When they’re finally getting ahold of their health, they’re going to see benefits in their mood, their energy levels. Because all of those things are improving for these workers, patient care is improving—because whoever is providing that care for our patients is just feeling better.”
The original Great Slim Down Program is located in Hennepin Healthcare’s Golden Valley Clinic, but has expanded to Richfield Clinic, Brooklyn Park Clinic, and Internal Medicine Clinic in the Clinic & Specialty Center. Watch the Great Slim Down’s fitness videos or visit the Great Slim Down webpage for more information. Check out our Great Slim Down success stories!
Natalie Ikeman is a physician assistant at the Golden Valley Clinic. She began the Great Slim Down in 2015, and since then, has expanded the clinic to include five providers at three other locations.