On August 1, local media was on hand for the grand opening and a tour of Hurley Medical Center Food Pharmacy, which is located in Flint at Hurley’s Eastside campus, within the Diabetes Center, at 2700 Robert T. Longway Blvd.
The Community Foundation of Greater Flint authorized a grant of $50,000 to the Hurley Foundation from the Arthur L. Tuuri Health Fund to be used for the Food Pharmacy. Hurley worked with the Greater Flint Health Coalition, Genesys, and McLaren Flint in developing a joint Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in 2016. This CHNA is completed every three years and helps communities focus efforts on priority health needs.
One such priority health need that Hurley has committed to address is Food Insecurity.
Alisa Craig, MS, Hurley Administrator of Wellness & Population Health, states, “Hunger is truly a health issue. Many of our patients cannot appropriately recover from surgeries/hospital stays or manage their chronic conditions because they often do not have enough food, especially healthy food, to help them heal. In addition, many often have to choose between purchasing medications or purchasing food.”
The USDA defines Food Insecurity as: “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” The rate of food insecure families in the U.S. continues to rise and, in Genesee County, the rates are higher than the national average. Food Insecurity is one of the primary social determinants of health that can have a tremendous impact on a person’s ability to manage a chronic condition or fight illness. It is estimated that direct healthcare costs related to hunger nationwide are $155 billion annually. Two very vulnerable populations are children and older adults.
Children who live in households that are food insecure recover more slowly from illness, have poorer overall health, and are hospitalized more frequently. And, an older adult experiencing very low food security is nine times more likely to skip medications to save money than one who is fully food secure.
Hurley is addressing Food Insecurity in their patient population by implementing routine screening for Food Insecurity via their electronic medical record. A positive screening will then generate a referral to the Food Pharmacy.
Hurley’s mission is to increase access to healthy foods for its food insecure patients and provide them with specific community resources to assist them long-term. The referral to the Food Pharmacy will provide two days’ worth of healthy food for themselves and their household members and can be used twice monthly, for three months. Patients will also be provided follow-up resources to help with their nutrition and other health-related needs and be able to meet with a registered dietitian.
Photography by Eric Dutro