A nutritious diet and food security are essential to wellness and affect all aspects of personal health. Interventions in this area can lead to reductions in chronic disease, mortality and medical costs. In April 2019, The University of Vermont Health Network - Elizabethtown Community Hospital launched the Wellness Rx program to provide nutritious food to the needy in their community while improving dietary habits.
Wellness Rx is a referral program that incorporates a holistic approach through nutrition and vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that diet modification can have a significant impact on chronic disease. Through the development of Wellness Rx and participation in the Well Fed Collaborative with Essex County Public Health, UVMHN - ECH is addressing the dietary crisis throughout the community.
Patients are recruited by healthcare providers to participate in the program. Participants must attend wellness visits to receive nutrition education. They receive vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables at each visit and are asked to participate in pre- and post-evaluations. Vouchers for fresh, nutritious foods can be redeemed at participating retailers. UVMHN - ECH is collaborating with local grocers and markets to accept the vouchers.
To date, the facility has had 43 referrals to the program. There are eight local redemption sites and 123 vouchers have been redeemed as of today. Their longest participant is currently at five months.
For more information, contact Amanda Whisher, primary care data quality specialist, at (518) 873-3125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.