Skip to main content
Home: Baptist Health

Leading People Down the Right Track

In the past three years, Jacksonville-area residents have benefited from free personalized wellness programs created by Baptist Health in partnership with the First Coast YMCA and the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA). The programs offer free health screenings, health risk assessments, workshops, and informative “Talk with a Doc” presentations led by a number of Baptist physicians.

Jacksonville resident Marilyn Wilkerson is a regular at the Luther & Blanche Coggin Healthy Living Center at the Winston Family YMCA. A few years ago, Marilyn was walking four miles a day, including treks over the Main and Acosta bridges, before she discovered that three of her arteries were 95 percent blocked. Following surgery for three heart stents, the former Amtrak executive vowed to be more heart-conscious.

Last fall, a wellness coach at the Winston Family Y’s Healthy Living Center asked Marilyn if she was interested in receiving a free biometric screening. She also offered to measure Marilyn’s BMI (body mass index), hydration and metabolism levels for free. “One thing that I learned was that I had the metabolism of a 55-year-old,” added Marilyn, who turned 80 last year. “I loved that. I also learned that I need to drink two more bottles of water each day.” Marilyn works out seven days a week at the Y and recently began attending Wellness Wednesdays at the Healthy Living Center, a new program of Baptist Health.

“Baptist has a real interest in women because if the woman in the family is healthy, then the whole family is healthier,” said Julie Schafer, the director of Baptist Health’s five Y Healthy Living Centers in Jacksonville. “Baptist Y Healthy Living Centers foster relationships with people in their communities and outside the walls of a clinical setting.”

Longtime JCA member Marilyn Selden is in the best shape of her life, thanks to the help of Baptist Health RN Wellness coaches at the Baptist JCA Wellness Connexion. After retiring from the Duval County school system, the 69-year-old Mandarin resident was gung ho about getting back into shape.

“When I first retired, I spent a couple of hours working out every day or taking fitness classes at the JCA,” said Marilyn. “Then my mother got sick and I didn’t come in at all.” “Being a former teacher, I like things that are structured, and I just knew that doing it on my own wasn’t the answer. I thought it would be helpful if I had someone leading me down the right path.”

That someone turned out to be Cheryl Meyer, RN, a certified health coach with the Baptist JCA Wellness Connexion, who quickly came up with a course of action to get Marilyn back on the fitness track. After sticking to a workout routine for three months, Marilyn lost 18 pounds and her body fat decreased by almost 7 percent. She also added weight training to her daily fitness class schedule. The upshot of all that increased activity — she had to purchase new clothes.

“I see myself as a sounding board. I’m not telling Marilyn what to do. I’m just encouraging her,” said Meyer, one of two Baptist Health nurse/coaches at the Wellness Connexion.

Marilyn is grateful for the resources that Baptist Health provides. “Just recently I saw an ad in the paper for the Baptist AgeWell Center for Senior Health, and I thought that might be a good thing for me to do, too,” she adds.