Prison staff help inmate improve weight, health

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Staff at Waikeria Prison have helped an inmate to lose almost 70kg and improve his health.
Staff at Waikeria Prison have helped an inmate to lose almost 70kg and improve his health.

Health services staff from Waikeria Prison have supported a prisoner to significantly improved his health by losing 68kg in six months.

Jack (not his real name) arrived at Waikeria Prison in March. As a 33-year-old smoker, 165cm tall and weighing 223kg, with a family history of early death due to cardiac conditions, Jack's health was poor.

Suffering with breathlessness, high blood pressure and asthma, Jack was admitted to hospital only days after he arrived at Waikeria with a suspected cardiac event.

At Waikato Hospital he was also diagnosed with increased hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol. He was promptly started on medication.

Jack also suffered extreme problems with his feet which meant his mobility, and ability to exercise was compromised.

Health staff at the prison felt they could help Jack and improve his quality of life.

"We started a regime of weekly weigh-ins and assessment of his blood pressure which helped him to stay on track.

"Before he could start engaging in regular exercise, we addressed the conditions with his feet. We also provided him with useful information on how to manage his weight while helping to motivate him to stick to the plan," said Waikeria Prison health services manager Cherryl Robertson.

"Not only has Jack lost weight, his blood pressure is coming down, he is exercising regularly and his risk of developing diabetes is disappearing.

"It's really heartening to see the changes in him, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well."

Prison director Kevin Smith is proud of the care and commitment shown by his Health Services staff as well as the dedication of Jack himself.

"Jack is well aware of the long road ahead but through the support and encouragement he has received he is reducing his risk of further cardiac events.

"Hopefully he will return to the community a far healthier man, who will be able to engage in work and support his family."

Jack has a new outlook on life and hopes to continue to make positive changes once released.

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