Hurley Medical Center Food FARMacy

Funding through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint; partner for food = the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and MSU-Extension Edible Flint; internal funding and support from Hurley Medical Center and the Hurley Foundation; volunteers via MSU College of Human Medicine’s Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved program; AmeriCorps team members via Pediatric Public Health Initiative.

After reviewing other hospital programs which address social determinants of health (via America’s Essentials Hospitals and Advisory Board), Administrator of Population Health, Alisa Craig, developed a strategy that was approved by Hurley Senior Leadership. This resulted in hospital-wide screening (2-questions) for food insecurity and referral to the Food FARMacy (opened 8/1/17) if a positive screening. Our vision is to expand beyond the walls of the hospital to provide the best possible care to our community. By truly treating “hunger as a health issue”, Hurley is taking an important step in addressing social determinants of health within very vulnerable populations. With the rate of food insecurity being higher in Genesee County than the national average, addressing this issue proactively will have a tremendous impact on a patient’s ability to manage a chronic disease or fight illness. This is extremely important in our children and older adult populations who have high rates of food insecurity. Hurley Medical Center’s Food FARMacy addresses the issue of food insecurity in our patient population by increasing access to healthy foods and providing them with additional resources to assist them long-term.

In August 2017, Hurley began screening for food insecurity (within our electronic medical record – EPIC) and providing referrals to our newly opened Food FARMacy. Upon discharge from our inpatient units or outpatient primary care clinics, a patient who gets this referral can get nutritious food for themselves and their household members, twice per month, for three months. The food provided is tailored based on their health needs, chronic conditions, and allergies.
The patients have the opportunity to meet with a Registered Dietitian while at the FARMacy and they are given many community resources to assist them. Assistance is provided to make sure the patients are appropriately enrolled in benefits, such as: SNAP, WIC, and Double Up Food Bucks.
By addressing their food insecurity, the patients will better be able to manage their chronic conditions, not have to make as many financial “trade-offs” (like having to choose to pay for medicine vs. food), and may have improvement in health status. Hurley provides the physical space for the Food FARMacy, which is co-located within our Adult Diabetes Center. Funding for a part-time dietitian and the food is from a Community Foundation grant. We work closely with our IT department (EPIC) to establish the screening/referral/reporting process.

Collaboration is key, both internally and externally. The EPIC (EMR) team is crucial in this project, plus Alisa has engaged all levels of nursing, nursing management, nursing education, residents, GME dept. Our Foundation’s Voluteer Services provide volunteers also. Externally, we work very closely with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to get most of our food. We also supplement via local garden (MSU-E Edible Flint) and growers. In addition, we are partnering with MSU School of Human Medicine’s Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved for their students to volunteer.

To date, close to 800 people have received food from the Food FARMacy, with new patient being referred daily. The need is great as we have already seen a 35-53% Food Insecurity rate in our primary clinic settings. In addition, we have helped several patients get appropriately enrolled in programs, like SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks. We hope to have more specific data, related to health outcomes, to share by July 2018.