“What makes Meadows Health special? It’s the commitment and the drive and the willingness of our people who have a passion for their patients and for medicine.” – Alan Kent, CEO
Like a lot of us, Areli Alvares once found herself standing in a grocery store aisle puzzled over the labels on food packaging.
As a young adult about to go away to college, Areli wanted to make healthier food choices, but found the labeling confusing and the amount of information overwhelming.
“I had trouble knowing what foods worked best or knowing which ones were good for me,” she says. “So I figured if I was having trouble, I’m sure others were too.”
Undeterred, Areli’s thirst for knowledge led to an interest in nutrition, which eventually led to a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Georgia Southern University.
Now as a health educator at Meadows Health, Areli works in a classroom setting helping patients who are dealing with a range of diseases or conditions. She is not only an asset to Meadows Health, her colleagues say, but to the community as well. As a bilingual speaker, she leads health education in both English and Spanish and is even working to become certified as a Medical Interpreter.
“I really enjoy making a difference in the life of others and helping them to make better food and health choices,” she says.
Whether its diabetes or congestive heart failure or hypertension, Areli sees first hand how exercise and proper nutrition can make a difference in the health of patients. And the group setting of the classes can have a positive dynamic on participants as well.
“They really inspire each other,” she says. “Especially when you have someone who says, ‘Wow you lost 20 pounds. I might be able to do that too.’”
Patients sometimes bring other family members or someone who cooks for them to the classes, so the entire family can practice better nutrition.
Or, sometimes they’ll bring their children, which Areli loves since this can often have an even bigger impact on the health of that family for generations to come.
“Because if they see that something like diabetes runs in their family, then they will make the connection that it’s genetic,” she says. “And so if their children can prevent it or delay the onset of diabetes, because they now know what they should eat or what they should stay away from, then that has helped the children as well.”
And ultimately, Areli says, that is what she enjoys the most about her job.
“I like when I hear that a patient has lost weight or lowered their blood sugar because when I hear this it encourages me to continue doing what I do and makes me happy that I’ve made a difference in other people’s lives.”