Saturday, May 27, 2017
DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS ASSESS FOOD INSECURITY
Increasingly, doctors and nurses are realizing that they need to ask directly about food stress. Starting in fall 2015, clinicians at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, Texas began to ask patients at four medical sites, including its physician practice, emergency rooms, and 10 school-based clinics in high-poverty areas if they had run out of food in the prior month or thought they would. Depending upon the location, 11 to 30% said they did. This summer, Memorial Hermann will expand its effort across the 15-hospital system, routinely asking hospitalized patients, along with patients seeking care at roughly 225 affiliated physician practices, about their food supply. And one affiliated practice has hired a community health worker to connect patients with food banks and brainstorm how to get better nutrition on a slim wallet. It also has planted a vegetable garden, so patients can literally grab some okra or collard greens on the way home.