Healthy choices

Wellness is based on making healthy choices, according to clinical assistant professor Chris Cook. “Too often in our busy lives, we do not have time to do what we should. We do not exercise enough. We do not eat right. We smoke cigarettes.”

Cook’s advice is not news to most of us, yet many people still engage in unhealthy habits. So Cook, who has expertise in why people do or do not comply with medical advice, has helped develop two programs that teach people how they can make better decisions and stick with their commitments to a healthier lifestyle. The programs – one in weight management and one in smoking cessation – are part of the new Pharmacy Care Clinic sponsored by the UGA College of Pharmacy.

“When your day is busy, it’s easy to just hit the drive-thru at a fast food place and grab the number one combo meal,” says Cook. “We have developed programs to help people understand the choices they have and the consequences of the decisions they make.”

The twelve-week weight-management program is based on the L.E.A.R.N. model, which stands for “Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, and Nutrition.” The eight-week smoking cessation program is based on the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking Program and also uses the L.E.A.R.N. framework.

In addition to these programs, the Pharmacy Care Clinic also offers low-cost wellness services, including tests, medication reviews and counseling to help clients better understand their individual situations and needs. Some specific services include cholesterol testing, liver function testing, lung function testing, body composition testing, blood pressure testing, diabetes education, anticoagulation monitoring, and ultrasound bone mineral density testing. Vaccines and immunizations, including flu shots and the hepatitis B series, are also offered.

“Everyone leaves with some educational materials giving details about the tests we have done, explaining terms and pointing them to sources of additional information,” said clinic director Larry Aull. “As pharmacists, we can take a ‘big picture’ look at each client’s medication and health-related issues. Even though a client may come to us for weight management, we may end up spending a fair amount of time discussing diabetes, hypertension, or some other condition that a particular client has or is susceptible to.”

Tests and vaccines can be ordered in packages or individually based on the client’s needs. Although many services are covered by health insurance, they typically cost far less than they would if ordered from a hospital. Additionally, in most cases, the results are available within minutes.

“The Pharmacy Care Clinic really gives our clinical pharmacists, pharmacy students and pharmacy residents an opportunity to use their knowledge and experience to serve the Athens community,” said Aull. “Many people think pharmacists only dispense drugs, but the growth and success we have seen with this clinic really showcases our wide variety of expertise.”

The Pharmacy Care Clinic is located next door to Athens Primary Care on Sunset Drive. Appointments must be made in advance by calling 706-369-0301.