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Good nutrition is the centerpiece of a program to help patients continue recovery

Good nutrition is the centerpiece of a program to help patients continue recovery
A new pilot program to provide food and community resources to Carle patients suffering from food insecurity is underway at Carle Health with hopes of expanding to benefit even more patients.

Inspired by nurses who often learn of a patient’s home situation through their care, the program is available in a couple of inpatient areas as well as a specialty care area of Carle Foundation Hospital.

Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, projected more than 20,000 people would be food insecure in Champaign County by the end of 2020 and even higher by the end of this year. The non-profit hunger relief organization gathers data - including poverty, unemployment rates and costs of a meal - from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Serving patients with high-quality care is important at Carle Health and this commitment extends beyond the walls of the hospitals and clinics. When patients leave the hospital to continue recovery at home, an important part of the ability to recover is access to adequate and nutritious food.

“Successful recovery from an illness or procedure involves much more than just clinical care,” Pam Bigler, RN, DNP, senior vice president, Clinical Partnerships and Programs at Carle Foundation Hospital, said. “Things like transportation, secure housing and access to nutritious food have a big impact on overall health and wellbeing. Our nurses and care teams see firsthand the need for this type of program, and we are thrilled to help in this small way.”

Food as Medicine is a collaborative partnership across numerous departments at Carle Health, including Nursing, Social Work, Food and Nutrition Services, Patient Transport Services, Volunteer Services and Community Health Initiatives. Funding is provided through generous donations to Carle Health Center for Philanthropy.

Help to a patient begins with a nurse evaluating a patient admitted to the hospital to determine if the patient may not have consistent access to nutritious food options – food insecurity.  Patients who meet the requirements are visited by a social worker, who offers the patient a box of food staples from Carle Health upon discharge and information on additional community resources for long-term assistance. A dietitian also meets with the patient to share tips and tricks for preparing the food quickly and easily. Patient Transport Services will help make it all happen, guiding each patient to the food box, packaged by volunteers, upon departure from the hospital.

“Food as Medicine is a true team effort, across Carle Health and across our community,” Bigler said.  “We are fortunate to have outstanding philanthropic funding and appreciate the support of our community partners who have been combatting food insecurity for years.

This is just one example of Carle Health’s expanding commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles within our community.

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: Champaign-Urbana, giving, nutrition, philanthropy, recovery