BUCKHANNON — Several employees from Community Care of West Virginia were the guest speakers at Buckhannon Rotary’s lunch meeting on Tuesday. Trevor Haddix, along with Community Health Workers Lisa Fidler and Kelsey Burgess, gave the Rotarians a special presentation on a new project they are launching to combat diabetes and requested Rotary funding to help make it all possible.
As Community Health Workers, Fidler and Burgess regularly make home visits to help people better manage their diabetes. Following their introductions, Rotarian Annamarie Chidester said, “One of the things they’re finding is people don’t have food.” Chidester went on to explain, “No matter how much medication you take, you diabetes without the proper diet.”
As a result, CCWV provider Jenna Ward PA-C has proposed a new pilot program called “FARMacy Rock Cave: Prescriptions for Produce.” Fidler told the group, “She wants the patients to see that the food they put in their body is far more important than the medication they take.” CCWV plans to partner with Pati and Lupe Espinosa, owners of Green Acres Farm and Greenhouse, for this innovative endeavor that seeks to address multiple community needs including food insecurity, and uncontrolled chronic health conditions like diabetes mellitus, obesity and hypertension.
The provider will obtain participants’ A1c at the onset and completion of the program in October. Patients will also complete a survey prior to enrollment, identifying areas of knowledge that are lacking in regard to diabetes management, as well as their nutritional knowledge and food preparation skills. CCWV will aim to improve the overall confidence in personal disease management and ultimately improved diabetes control, demonstrated by lowering participants’ A1c levels.
Here’s how it will work: Ward will identify 11 patients who have an A1c value of 7.5 or higher (which means their diabetes is not well controlled) to participate in the 16-week program from June through September. She will give them a “prescription”, which they will take to Green Acres to be filled and in exchange, they will receive $20 in fresh, locally grown produce per week.
The patients will then take their box of produce to the Tri-County Health Clinic’s kitchen in Rock Cave, where WVU Extension Office employees will be available for demonstrations of fresh produce preparation, meal planning ideas and information regarding how nutrition impacts diabetes. Ideally, this addition of fresh fruits and vegetables will improve the patients’ A1c values over the duration of the program, while simultaneously educating them on appropriate nutrition, fresh food preparation and disease management.
Similar programs in Wheeling and Wetzel County have been very successful in reducing patients’ A1c levels by emphasizing the importance of utilizing food as medicine. If this pilot project has good participation and results, they intend to expand it next year. By implementing programs like FARMacy, CCWV strives to continue its efforts at bettering the health of the communities they serve.
If you have any questions or would like to contribute to the success of this project, please contact [email protected] or 304-473-5600 ext. 2905. You may also contact Jenna Ward, PA-C at [email protected] or 304-924-6262 ext. 1045.