Northeast Side Patient Takes Charge of Her Health and Inspires Others Along the Way
Story & Photos Provided by Eskenazi Health
Gail Reaves knows the value of good health, and thanks to her involvement in Eskenazi Health Lifestyle Medicine programs, has completely changed her life around for the better. Reaves is 63 years old and a patient at Eskenazi Health Center North Arlington. She’s been part of the Eskenazi Health care system since she was born, being welcomed into the world at General Hospital, as it was then known.
Reaves lives on the northeast side and has been in her current neighborhood for almost a decade. She loves her community, taking part in neighborhood block parties and visiting Washington Park. She looks forward to the new Eskenazi Health Center East 38th Street facility being built nearby at the corner of East 38th Street and North Arlington Avenue, and says she regularly drives by the site when on her way to visit her daughter. Reaves says she loves that the new building, opening in early 2024, will be a one-stop shop for all her health and wellness needs and is pleased it will be so accessible via the new IndyGo Purple Line.
Back in 2016, Reaves experienced a health scare while at work and received a diagnosis of borderline diabetes. She knew she had a decision to make and that changes would be needed if she wanted to live her best life. As a first step, Reaves began taking medications to help with high blood pressure and started monitoring her A1C. She was also made aware of the multitude of free programs for Eskenazi Health patients and got signed up to take part in meeting with a dietitian through the Lifestyle Medicine program and produce classes, as well as adding more exercise.
Reaves formed a wonderful connection with her dietitian, Lauren Gunn, an outpatient clinical dietitian specialist who she calls her partner in accountability. Reaves also credits the Eskenazi team for always checking in with her to see how she is progressing toward achieving her goals for a healthier life.
“Since working with the lifestyle program, Gail has made great improvements in her health. She has lost almost 20 pounds and improved her A1C to the target range,” Gunn says. “She has also substantially lowered her blood pressure and was even taken off some of her medication by her physician. She’s back to work, has much more energy and is getting back into the community, which is a big win for her.”
Gunn said Reaves is always happy to share her struggles and successes with other patients in an effort to inspire them.
“She has an energetic presence, and she feels so much more confident because she decided to make her health a priority,” Gunn says. It’s so rewarding to see someone invest in their health and watch how it allows them to accomplish more of what they love to do.”
Reaves has come to learn so much about the benefits of healthy eating and making better choices by incorporating more vegetables and fresh produce into her diet, whether it be adding sliced cucumbers to her water or discovering a love for kale and wanting to top everything she eats with it.
Now as a great-grandmother, Reaves acknowledges her role in helping pass down healthy habits to her family members by leading by example and having healthy options on hand when loved ones come to visit. Thanks to Reaves’ efforts to change her diet and growing her appreciation for fresh produce, she has lost weight, lowered her A1C and has recently been able to ease off her blood pressure medications with the goal of stopping them completely in the near future. She states how much she has learned from her involvement in Lifestyle Medicine classes and can’t believe how much fun she is having living her healthier lifestyle and helping inspire others to do the same.
Reaves expressed how grateful she is for the services and programs Eskenazi Health provides for people in the community and credits the convenient locations of the health centers for being readily available for anyone in need of care. Reaves said no matter the need, Eskenazi Health has a program to help.
In her spare time, Reaves is pursuing a cooking show with her daughter and likes to create content for YouTube. She uses her platform to share stories from others who inspire her, to talk about her family and spread her joy for living.
Reaves encourages others whenever she can to take charge of their health journeys, just like she did, when she made the decision to want to live, feel better and have fun along the way.