Message from Wiley Long
President - ColoHealth

Words From Our Clients:

I have been very satisfied with my customer service from ColoHealthTim Holt was very pleasant and helpful over the phone and gave me personal and individualized advice."

Caroline Layde Robbins 
Denver, CO 

"Leslie Jablonksi's expertise, patience, and communication were of great help."

Connie Pinkerton 
Grand Junction, CO

Share this page:

Congratulations to Lindsey Hancock,
the Fall 2015 ColoHealth Scholarship Essay Contest Winner

Lindsey submitted the winning essay to the “Health Care in America” $500 Scholarship Essay Contest. ColoHealth strongly encourages everyone to pursue a higher education and hopes that in providing this $500 scholarship twice a year it will help students pay for the high costs of education. College students will have a chance to enter to win this scholarship twice a year. Please check back on our website  for new dates, topics, and deadlines.

Lindsey’s Essay Topic

With modern medical practices and mandatory national health care, people are expecting to live longer, healthier lives. Yet many chronic diseases are becoming more prevalent, with modern medicine offering treatments but no cures. Discuss the relationship between health, lifestyle, and the modern healthcare system, and possible causes of and cures to our nation’s health and healthcare challenges.

Read Lindsey’s full essay below!

Colohealth Scholarship Essay

Health, Lifestyle, and the Healthcare System

By Lindsey Hancock

In March of 2013, while visiting the church that my now-deceased Native American grandfather, a Methodist minister, built, I was greatly moved by the stories I overheard in the fellowship hall. Many in the mostly Native American congregation had complications from diabetes, like nerve damage, blindness, and kidney failure, with these diseases causing much suffering and much expense not only to this small community, but to society as a whole. At the same time, hearing those stories about diabetes greatly focused my career goals. I decided to become a physician and try to beat the disease rather than sit by idly and give into it. And when I say “beat the disease,” I mean that I would eventually like to educate and inspire under-served groups (Natives and others) to care for themselves properly and be wise, financially, while they are younger. This way, they will be less likely to suffer with chronic diseases later in life that require them to need expensive long term care. And if they do require long term care anyway, they will have the resources (or be able to afford long term care insurance coverage) to pay for it.

The subjects of chronic disease and the societal and personal cost of long term care is very timely for me, as my eighty-eight-year-old, diabetic grandmother is in assisted living and declining rapidly. Just a few weeks ago, my grandmother’s facility notified us that they were recommending moving her to long term care. The monthly cost would be about $12,000, and within only a few months, she would need to apply for Medicaid, as her resources would be drained. Hearing this scared me because my father is also Native and diabetic. I didn’t want my father to end up that way, and I didn’t want to personally inherit the terrible and very costly disease. Even though I am only 3/16 Indian, I look strongly Native American, and I worry that I am at increased risk.

Fortunately, my mother, who is quite resourceful, flew to my grandmother’s rescue and found some other options besides long term care that would give her an equally safe living environment. For a little more money, she was able to transfer my grandmother to an “Enhanced Assisted Living” facility. Though the cost was less than long term care, the bill would still come in at $5500 per month. At that rate, my grandmother’s resources would be drained in about ten months—probably just long enough to see her through to the end of her life. Though it wasn’t a great option, it was better than the alternative: nursing home placement.

I do not want to end up like my grandmother, getting shuffled from facility to facility, trying to live in the least miserable way while she awaits the end of her life. I want to live well in my senior years. I want to not create a burden for my children or cause them to feel guilty for “placing me in a home” if my health declines. For this reason, I see a tremendous need to have long term care insurance, some day. My parents intend to take this insurance out for themselves when they turn fifty, and I plan to do the same when I get older, thanks to the lessons I learned from my grandmother.

In addition to planning for our future healthcare needs, it is important to make good health-related decisions in the here and now to optimize our health later on. This includes educating those at risk for diabetes regarding better health habits. Many of the causes of diabetes, such as being sedentary and/or overweight, are reversible through proper lifestyle changes. Moreover, it is especially important to educate Native Americans about diabetes, as Natives have a markedly increased risk of developing the disease.

Since, I, personally, hope to make a difference in regard to diabetes education, I already hosted a diabetes health fair at our local Choctaw Alliance in November of 2014. As part of this project, I obtained free educational material from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and the Indian Health Service (IHS). I also created two tri-fold display boards to educate the diabetes fair visitors about diabetes and how to prevent its complications, as well as a visual display showing visitors how much sugar was in various food and drinks. Using that same material, I participated in a diabetes health fair at our local hospital (also in November of 2014), with a booth on diabetes prevention in Native Americans. This was a natural extension of my volunteer work, as I was already volunteering with the hospital’s diabetes education team.

Another offshoot of my work in diabetes is that a local university professor agreed to help me turn my passion for community service into a research project. After obtaining consent from the necessary Institutional Review Boards, I surveyed Native diabetics at the health fairs in regard to their beliefs about diabetes as well as their health habits. My project is entitled “Diabetes Empowerment, Knowledge, and Compliance in a Subgroup of Native Americans with Type II Diabetes Mellitus” and is being submitted to the American Indian Science and Engineering Fair. In short, I found that diabetes knowledge (not sense of empowerment over the condition) correlated moderately and significantly with compliance to a diabetes care plan. This is a very important finding, as depression is very common among Native diabetics, and depression tends to make people feel powerless. The take-home message from my study is that even if diabetics feel depressed over their condition, educating them about their disease can still lead to positive lifestyle changes.

In conclusion, I have a great passion for overcoming the problem of diabetes in under-served populations, especially in Native Americans, but in other groups as well. I also have a passion to help solve this chronic disease problem for personal reasons, as I believe I am at risk. Finally, I am concerned about the cost of caring for those with chronic disease, not only at the community level, but also at the personal level. I believe that if we each do our part to inspire and encourage people to live healthier, we can create a very powerful and healthy next generation and a less diseased older generation.