Apr. 10—ALBANY — Phoebe Putney Health System is expanding its partnership with Flint River Fresh by launching a pilot program called Fresh Rx with a study group of diabetic patients. Through this prescription to produce program, uninsured patients of primary care physician Dr. Derek Heard will receive free, fresh produce every other week for six months.
“If people with diabetes don’t have access to fresh food and don’t prepare food in a healthy way, they can’t manage their illness effectively, and they will be much more likely to suffer serious complications from the disease,” Heard said in a news release. “Not only will we provide a box of fresh produce every other week, we’ll offer diabetes management education as well as recipe cards and cooking demonstrations to help ensure our patients have everything they need to prepare healthy meals for their families.”
The initial food distribution and education event was held on April 7 at Phoebe Healthworks. The bi-monthly events will continue through September. Phoebe measured the weight and blood sugar levels of the participants before the program began. The patients will be checked again in three months and at the end of the program to see if their A1C levels and weight have improved.
“Diabetes is a serious health problem in our community, and improving diabetes management is one of the goals from our most recent community health needs assessment,” Dr. Dianna Grant, Phoebe Putney Health System chief medical officer, said. “This pilot program is one small but very important aspect of Phoebe’s focus on health equity and population health in our entire service area. We know it will give us measurable results, and we hope it will improve the health of the patients involved. We also hope to expand the program in the future.”
Flint River Fresh is an Albany-based non-profit organization that works to improve access to fresh, healthy, local food for those in need. Phoebe is one of the group’s primary partners. Flint River Fresh operates a large community garden on Phoebe’s property near the health system’s main campus and collaborates with Phoebe on many community outreach and health education programs.