Mercy Hospital introduces food market program

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Mercy Hospital is now taking into consideration whether a person can afford healthy food and are offering solutions as they change their approach to wellness.

The new program at Mercy Hospital is called the “food market program.” 

Patients there are now being asked if they’ve run out of food or felt like they might have run out of food over the past 12 months without the ability to buy more. If they answer yes to either of those questions, patients are given a voucher. 

“Patients who receive a voucher are given that voucher to attend our farmers markets,” said Cynthia Nelson, director of system operations for the Mercy Physician Network. 

READ: Insurance company helping seniors eat their way to better health  

“And our farmers markets are set up at Mercy Health System. We have three different hospitals, and so the farmers markets run once a month on a Tuesday at different times at each hospital,” she explained. 

Nelson says many of the people in their care are low income. 

“Patients sometimes have to decide whether they will come to the doctor or purchase food, and if we can help take that choice away by being able to provide healthy food, then our patients might come into the doctor and have their conditions treated,” Nelson said. 

READ: New guidelines make doctors rethink daily aspirin for older adults 

She explains food has a direct connection to wellness.

“High blood pressure, we also see diabetes, and those are directly effected by food,” she said. 

Nelson also says this approach represents a paradigm shift in the way they approach wellness. 

“We can’t continue to treat just a particular diagnosis. We have to be aware of each patient’s circumstance and how that effects how they take care of themself.”

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