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Healthy Living in Community

With Dr. Norbert Goldfield, Chronic Disease Self-Management helps “heal across the divides”

When someone is diagnosed with a chronic disease, oftentimes they may feel a wide range of responses: a sense of frustration and loss; relief from having an answer about what’s been doing on; bewilderment about what to do next. To manage their new condition, they will likely have many questions and try to seek answers, but they may not know where to look.

Dr. Norbert Goldfield understands. A physician for nearly 40 years, he has treated patients around the world, from right here in the Pioneer Valley at a practice in Springfield to refugees in Hong Kong. “Patients should see me as their assistant,” says Dr. Goldfield, someone who is there “to empower them.”

One resource for finding your own way to manage a chronic illness is the Healthy Living Program, offered locally through LifePath and developed by researchers at Stanford. The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) is one of the five workshops offered at LifePath.

Dr. Goldfield knows Dr. Kate Lorig, one of the creators of CDSMP, and was familiar with the program. As an internist, he found the program to be organized, systemized, validated scientifically, and, most importantly, useful for working with patients who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s chronic illnesses.

“We know that it makes a difference in terms of chronic disease control,” says Dr. Goldfield. “The more the person is self-confident and knowledgeable, the great the chronic disease control.”

In 2016, Dr. Goldfield signed up to become a workshop leader and master trainer. In addition to offering the workshop locally, his intention was to bring the program to the other side of the world.

Dec 2017 Healthy Living in Community Dr. Goldfield photoDr. Norbert Goldfield (far right) offered the Healthy Living Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Leader Training to community members of the village of Abboud in West Bank/Palestine in August of 2016. Those who completed the program became certified to lead workshops as Healthy Living Leaders.In 2004, Dr. Goldfield founded a nonprofit organization, Healing Across the Divides, which seeks to use community-based interventions to improve the health of marginalized people living in Israel and the West Bank. There, he trained 15 community members from five communities as Healthy Living leaders. Workshops have now helped approximately 1,000 participants, mainly women who are marginalized, have a chronic illness, and are low-income. Because women often direct the health-related behaviors of their families and support networks, they in turn can have a powerful impact on their local communities.

Dr. Goldfield hopes that the West Bank participants can someday get together with their Israeli counterparts and see their similarities and differences.

Back here in the Valley, Dr. Goldfield believes that other medical practitioners could benefit from enrolling in Healthy Living Leader Trainings as well. “I also believe in lay leadership.” Anyone can learn to become a workshop co-facilitator, and patients can also encourage their doctors to make referrals to the program. “Most people would like to feel better,” says Dr. Goldfield. “This can help.”

Dr. Goldfield will continue doing what he can to make a difference. “My hope,” he says, “is that I can be helpful in other ways that will lead to improved health for a least one more person with a chronic illness.”

To learn more about the Healthy Living Program, enroll in a workshop, or become a volunteer leader, click here or call us at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259.