Hospi­tal Pro­vides Pa­tients With Or­ganic Pro­duce From its Own Farm

Trillions - - Content -

Iron­i­cally, hospi­tal food has long been rec­og­nized as be­ing some of the least healthy food and ac­tu­ally con­trib­utes to many of the ail­ments that peo­ple end up in the hospi­tal for. One hospi­tal has fig­ured out the ob­vi­ous and done some­thing about it.

Lanke­nau Med­i­cal Cen­ter was do­ing a sur­vey some five years ago to look at how best to care for its lo­cal clients. Af­ter learn­ing it was sit­u­ated next to the un­health­i­est county in Penn­syl­va­nia, in­stead of plan­ning to ad­just staffing or treat­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the tra­di­tional way, it did some­thing rad­i­cal.

It built a half-acre or­ganic farm on its prop­erty so it could pro­vide fresh pro­duce for its pa­tients.

What brought the hospi­tal to this point was a study of the lat­est find­ings of the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion about health in var­i­ous counties in Penn­syl­va­nia. The med­i­cal cen­ter it­self is lo­cated in Mont­gomery County, one of the health­i­est counties in the state. How­ever, it also hap­pens to be right next to Philadel­phia County, a source of many of its pa­tients and the least healthy of all the counties in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Philadel­phia it­self, with a pop­u­la­tion of over 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple, has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing one of the largest cities in the coun­try and also one of its un­health­i­est. A sur­vey seven years ago showed obe­sity as a ram­pant prob­lem in the area, with 32% of adults and 25% of chil­dren af­fected. The county had very high rates of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and hypertension, and 13% of the city’s adult pop­u­la­tion had di­a­betes.

In look­ing at the prob­lem, Lanke­nau Med­i­cal Cen­ter re­al­ized it could have gone the tra­di­tional way of help­ing out, by de­vel­op­ing strong staffing and prac­tices tied to obe­sity and its con­se­quences. In­stead, it made the de­ci­sion to work on the pre­ven­tion of obe­sity, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and di­a­betes.

That meant get­ting its pa­tients to eat health­ier as a ma­jor part of its “treat­ment” pro­gram. The best way, the cen­ter de­cided, was not to send pa­tients to the su­per­mar­ket but to help them find healthy food right at the hospi­tal – at its own farm.

For the farm it­self, the cen­ter called on Greener Part­ners, a non-profit fo­cus­ing on lo­cal food so­lu­tions in the state, to cre­ate, build, op­er­ate and main­tain what even­tu­ally be­came known as Deaver Well­ness Farm. It went into op­er­a­tion in 2015.

Part of the solution was ed­u­ca­tion about the value of healthy food as part of a healthy life reg­i­men. The farm’s pro­duce is used to help with that in sev­eral ways. One way is through ed­u­ca­tional demon­stra­tions in the cafe­te­ria. The hospi­tal also sets up the equiv­a­lent of “pop-up stores” (at no cost to pa­tients) lo­cated in the in­ter­nal medicine ar­eas, the OB-GYN prac­tice fa­cil­i­ties and hospi­tal wait­ing rooms.

In each lo­ca­tion, med­i­cal as­sis­tants bring in fresh food such as kale, broc­coli, toma­toes, egg­plant and more in­stead of the usual op­tion of pre­scrib­ing pills af­ter ex­am­i­na­tions. Recipes are pro­vided, as are food prepa­ra­tion demon­stra­tions for all.

In the 3+ years since the pro­gram started, the hospi­tal has pro­vided over 4,000 pounds of or­ganic food to its pa­tients at no charge to them. It has also added classes to guide its pa­tients on the whole con­cept of healthy eat­ing.

To keep things mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion when pa­tients are no longer in the hospi­tal, the cen­ter also pro­vides coupons called Philly Food Bucks for will­ing pa­tients to use out in the com­mu­nity. The Philly Food Bucks are pro­vided with the sup­port of the Philadel­phia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health and The Food Trust.

Up next for the Lanke­nau Med­i­cal Cen­ter is to sur­vey pa­tients to see how the farm – and the pro­gram as a whole – is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for them in the long term. The cen­ter is also reach­ing out to do­nate some of its food to lo­cal food banks and other com­mu­nity part­ners who may help spread the word about the ben­e­fits of healthy food to oth­ers.

The North Amer­ica Procurement Coun­cil will be ac­tively seek­ing to pro­vide AMERO grants for sim­i­lar projects in other com­mu­ni­ties. To ap­ply for an AMERO grant, please visit Amero­grants.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.