KAWEAH DELTA’S CHRONIC DISEASE MANAGEMENT CENTER IS FOCUSED ON MORE
THAN KEEPING PATIENTS HEALTHY AND OUT OF THE HOSPITAL.
FeMarie Evangelista was never a patient of Kaweah Delta’s Chronic
Disease Management Center, a place where people with chronic conditions
like diabetes, heart failure and lung disease learn how to stay well and
live better lives.
She had originally walked into the center in 2017, to accompany her fiancé
Jesse Reyes, who was battling heart failure, to an appointment. But ironically,
it was FeMarie who left a changed person when she walked out of the center
for the last time that year.
Sadly, Jesse was no longer by FeMarie’s side – her fiancé
died that summer in Fresno awaiting surgery to extend his life. But today,
his memory is alive and well in FeMarie’s heart and her future is
bright thanks to the small, but mighty, team at Kaweah Delta’s Chronic
Disease Management Center. Out of the goodness of their hearts, the team
gifted FeMarie, a Certified Nurse Assistant and a mother of five, something
that their former patient had always wanted for his wife-to-be, the opportunity
to go back to school and get on the path to becoming a Registered Nurse.
“He wanted me to go to school, but the time was never right. He
would say, ‘Just do it babe. Just do it. You’d make a good
nurse,’” FeMarie said. “It was an awesome feeling to
know that there were people out there that were willing to help and it
wasn’t their job. They went out of their way to give me a chance.
Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
At the Chronic Disease Management Center, patients like Jesse, are cared
for by a multi-disciplinary team that helps them better manage chronic
conditions to avoid a hospital stay. That team includes a physician, nurse
practitioners, registered nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, community outreach
workers, and more. The team asks patients to involve friends and family
to support them as they make lifestyle changes to better manage their
chronic conditions, said Wendy Walters, a lead outreach specialist at
the center. FeMarie was inspiring in her support of Jesse, which was one
of the reasons the team wanted to help FeMarie after Jesse’s death,
“She was the most patient, kind and just loving support person.
He was in so much pain and she would say, ‘It’s OK Jesse.
We are going to get through this,” Wendy said. “She just loved
him so much. She replaced all the food that wasn’t good for him
with healthy meals so he could live longer. She was trying to save his
One day outside of Wendy’s office, FeMarie told Wendy that she would
love to care for patients the way she saw them cared for at Kaweah Delta’s
Chronic Disease Management Center. “I said, ‘Oh yeah? Let’s
talk about that. What would you need to do to make that happen?”
The two researched FeMarie’s options. FeMarie, who was already a
CNA, would need to take four prerequisite classes and pass a test to get
into the Tulare Adult School’s Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) program.
During Christmas 2017, Wendy and the team surprised FeMarie with a class
schedule. In addition to providing Christmas presents for FeMarie’s
children, the team arranged for Santa and Mrs. Claus to be there. They
also pulled together enough donations to pay for testing needed to enter
Tulare Adult School’s LVN program, along with tuition for her prerequisites
and books. To date, FeMarie is on pace to graduate in May 2020 as an LVN,
but she plans to become a registered nurse.
“I think about it now and I think this has been a blessing. It would
have never happened without Jesse,” she said. “He is better
in heaven now and he left something behind for me.”
KAWEAH DELTA CHRONIC DISEASE MANAGEMENT CENTER
325 S. Willis, Visalia, CA 93291
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday - Friday
If you have a chronic condition – diabetes, heart disease, lung disease,
asthma, pneumonia, etc. – and would like to learn how to better
manage it, call 559-624-4080. The team will partner with your physician
to offer any of the following services:
∙ On-site laboratory testing
∙ Cardiology services
∙ Treadmill stress testing
∙ IV therapy
∙ Education programs
∙ Pharmacy services
∙ And more.