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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Alec's Story

Weight Management
“When you come to the program, you have to be accountable so you think twice about what you are eating. But once you start losing weight, there are rapid rewards visible on the scale and tape measure.”

Man's Weight Loss Benefits Couple

To say that Alec and Polly Murray are big fans of Disney would be an understatement. Classified as “adult Disney lovers,” they travel to one of the Disney properties several times each year.

But in early 2017, they had to slow down due to Alec’s health issues related to atrial fibrillation, comprised kidney function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. At five foot, two inches and 255 pounds, Alec was considered “morbidly obese” on the body mass index (BMI) scale. He knew his weight was affecting his health and changes were overdue.

He started on CentraCare’s Medical Weight Management program, using meal substitutes and guidance from a dietitian, exercise specialist, social worker and regular lab testing. “When you come to the program, you have to be accountable so you think twice about what you are eating,” Alec says. “But once you start losing weight, there are rapid rewards visible on the scale and tape measure.”

By the end of 2017, he had shed 60 pounds. “I didn’t start the program kicking and screaming because I knew I needed to lose weight to improve my health,” Alec notes.

Polly has found the program beneficial as well. “I figured if he is going to eat better than I might as well join him.” She’s down about 20 pounds even though she is not using the meal substitutes.

A New Lifestyle

Photo Caption: Alec and Polly take several trips each year to Disney properties. Walking around Animal Kingdom in Spring 2018 was easier for Alec after he had lost some weight following CentraCare's Weight Management program.

Married for 47 years and residing in Clearwater, they’ve worked together to adjust recipes and modify their approach to eating out. They make and freeze large batches of soups and chili so they always have something healthy on hand. Alec confessed to not being a big fruit and vegetable fan but has grown to love foods with onions, peppers and celery, and enjoys fresh cantaloupe and strawberries.

The couple continues to enjoy the benefits of Alec’s weight loss. His atrial fibrillation is under control with medication. He no longer uses a portable oxygen concentrator for shortness of breath or takes a prediabetes medication and his AC1 (diabetes test) is in the normal range.

“I’ve learned to shop at Savers because my clothes were way too big and my sizes were changing rapidly,” says Alec, noting his pant size has dropped from 52 to 44.

They take advantage of their Fit and Silver membership at the St. Cloud Area Family YMCA by using the treadmill, lifting weights and relaxing in the hot tub or steam room. They both have more energy to enjoy their Disney trips.

Losing weight and making lifestyle changes is an ongoing journey and Alec has seen the scale creep up about 20 pounds while traveling and moving toward “real” food instead of meal substitutes. He’s continuing with regular visits to the CentraCare Weight Management outreach site within Lifestyle Health at the Y and increased his exercise routine.

The couple is also busy planning their next trips to Disney and are looking forward to fishing and boating at their travel trailer lake lot on Fish Trap lake in Central Minnesota. “My long-term goal is to get to and stay under 200 pounds and I know this program will help me do that.”