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August 22 Town Hall

August 22 Town Hall:

Transforming Health Care for Patients: Aging, Physical Activity and Nutrition – Oklahoma City, OK

Obesity is personal. How health professionals talk to adults about obesity and what words they use can have a decided impact on people’s decisions about obesity prevention and weight management.

This was a key insight discussed at the last of four town halls held across the country to determine the barriers keeping adults from receiving quality obesity care. Taking place on August 22 in Oklahoma City, the town hall was hosted by the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Institute (OHAI) and Oklahoma Dementia Care Network (OKDCN) as the last step in a process that assessed Oklahomans’ perceptions and concerns about obesity to advance solutions to improve care.

Prior to the town hall, OHAI commissioned focus group research involving three panels of men and women aged 55 years and over, including tribal-affiliated adults, in Enid, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Collectively 78 older adults were asked a series of questions about their needs, desires and fears when discussing overweight and obesity with their health providers, which revealed a sense of dread on the part of many adults to even engage on weight-related matters weight when seeing their physician.

Using these findings as the framework for the town hall, a panel of six experts in clinical medicine and disease prevention engaged in a frank discussion about the need to treat people with obesity with the same respect as clinicians give to patients with other chronic diseases. Another important take-away is to redesign the primary care setting so it allows people of a large size to feel independent and have a sense of privacy. In terms of removing the barriers to accessing obesity treatment, the experts also advanced the importance of integrating health educators into the clinic or practice, providing mental health support, and helping patients with transportation and financial assistance if needed.

The town hall, entitled Transforming Health Care for Patients: Aging, Physical Activity and Nutrition, was moderated by Devon Murray, Education Director of the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative. The expert panel comprised Lee Jennings, MD, Section Chief of the Section of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Joanne Skaggs, MD, Associate Chief of the Medical Office for Adults at OU Health; Keeley White, MPH, Director of Community Health Programs for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; Tara Klinedinst, PhD, Director of the University of Oklahoma Health-Promoting Activity Lab; Hunter Toms, CEO of Rural Wellness Fairfax; and Lana Shaffer, MPH, Community Health Liaison at AVEM Health Partners.

How do you usually feel before/after an appointment with your healthcare provider?



Town Hall Experts

Lee Jennings

MD Chief, Geriatric & Palliative Medicine

Joanne Skaggs

MD Associate Chief Medical Office of Adults

Keeley White

MPH Director, Community Health Programs

Tara Klinedinst

PHD Director, Health Promoting Activity Lab

Hunter Thomas

CEO Rural Wellness Fairfax

Lana Shaffer

MPH Community Benefits Liaison

Dorothea K. Vafiadis

MS Director, Health Partnerships & Strategic Engagement , MPH Community Benefits Liaison

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