As part of a pilot program to address food insecurity, MetroHealth is opening a food clinic on the system's main campus in Cleveland.
Cuyahoga County has Ohio's highest number of food insecure residents and children—people who don't have reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food.
The idea of the food clinic is to use "food as medicine," according to a news release. Patients will receive a food prescription from their primary care provider, covering two visits a month to the food clinic, where patients can select a two- to three-day supply of healthy food for their household at no cost.
The Greater Cleveland Foodbank will stock the clinic with whole grains, dairy, fresh and frozen produce, canned fruits, vegetables and meat products, and a diet technician will provide nutritional education, according to the release. Bus and parking passes will be available.
"This is one more way we're helping people stay healthy and out of the hospital," Dr. Akram Boutros, MetroHealth's president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. "In the process, we're not only reducing health care costs, we're relieving the anxiety and stress that contribute to dozens of other illnesses."
Citizens Bank contributed $50,000 to help develop MetroHealth's food as medicine program and food clinic. The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation recently approved a two-year $78,618 grant to support the program.
The first patients enrolled in the program screened positive for food insecurity at the time they are discharged from a hospital stay, have a MetroHealth primary care provider, and have uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension or acute exacerbation of heart failure, according to the release.