NE FL docs prescribe wholesome meals to low-income sufferers

Instead of writing prescriptions for drugs, doctors write them for vegetables, fruits, and lean protein.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re used to doctors writing prescriptions for drugs to help with chronic illness, but how about a healthy eating treatment plan?

Doctors at UF Health Jacksonville give low-income patients prescriptions for groceries that they can pick up at local pharmacies.

“We are in our food pharmacy. I oversee our community clinics, which care for people who are mostly in the urban core and face the most disparities in Jacksonville, “said Dr. Ross Jones, medical director, community health, UF Health Jacksonville.

The new food pharmacy is part of UF Health’s Total Care Clinic, which helps patients above 200% of the poverty line. That’s less than $ 53,000 a year for a family of four.

“One of the things about our patients is that many of them live in food deserts with no access to products,” said Jones.

Instead of writing prescriptions for drugs, doctors write them for vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. They hope this program will open the door to a new healthy lifestyle.

“Yes, we can write prescriptions for the latest and greatest medicines, but it’s also about the food you eat because food is medicine,” said Jones.

According to UF Health, 96 patients participate in the six-month program and receive their meal prescription every two weeks.

“For example, if you have a condition like diabetes, we would write for a low-carbohydrate diet. We wouldn’t give them rice, bread or pasta, “Jones said.” We would try to put them more in the fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats like chicken that we have here in the freezers. “

The grocery pharmacy costs about $ 250,000 per year to run and is paid for through donations from several companies, including Florida Blue.

“It’s an opportunity for dignity and respect,” said Ann-Marie Knight, vice president of community service at UF Health Jacksonville.

Health organization staff believe it will be the first of its kind in a Florida hospital.

“We’re more than ready to invite other hospitals and other healthcare providers to see the model because we don’t want to be the only ones in this area, especially when we know we’re making a difference in our community,” Knight said.

The grocery pharmacy started this month and currently has a waiting list of 100 patients.

. @UFHealthJax doctors write healthy eating recipes for the grocery pharmacy. I’ll be hearing more about the new program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Florida, tonight at 5:30 pm on @ FCN2go. pic.twitter.com/PXirgN7J4P

– Dawn White (@DawnWhiteNews) June 17, 2021

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