Lifestyle Medicine Program begins citywide expansion, starting with Jacobi Hospital

A ribbon cutting opening the Lifestyle Medicine Program at Jacobi Hospital in the East Bronx.
Photo courtesy John Doyle

NYC Health + Hospitals announced Thursday that its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program has expanded to Jacobi Hospital. This is the first of six new sites to make the program available citywide.

The pilot program, launched at Bellevue Hospital in 2019 with the support of then-Borough President Eric Adams, has already seen hundreds of patients. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s team supports patients in making evidence-based lifestyle changes, including a healthful plant-based diet, increased physical activity, improved sleep habits, stress reduction, avoidance of substance use and stronger social connections. Adults living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll.

The program can accommodate 48 new patients each month, and the care team at each site includes physicians, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, a health coach, community health workers, a psychologist, a program coordinator and an exercise trainer. Following the launch at Jacobi, the expansion will include NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull, Kings County, Lincoln, Elmhurst, and Gotham Health, Vanderbilt launching over the coming months.

“New York City is again leading the way with an even wider-reaching coordinated expansion of lifestyle medicine than ever before,” saidMayor Eric Adams. “This is personal to me. A plant-based lifestyle helped save my life, and I’m thrilled that even more New Yorkers will have access to this critical programming right in their own neighborhoods. I applaud the work NYC Health + Hospitals is doing to deepen our administration’s commitment to equity of opportunity and addressing the disparities in health care from borough to borough. Our shared challenge is to stop feeding the health care crisis and ensure that all New Yorkers can live the healthy lifestyle they deserve, and lifestyle medicine is the prescription.”

The Lifestyle Medicine’s nine-month program provides every patient with 6-to-9 one-on-one counseling sessions; 14 weekly group classes; eight weekly exercise classes; six free, monthly deliveries of seasonal fresh produce; health bucks; culinary skills videos; a plant-based cookbook and support accessing benefits.

From left, Dr. Itha Harewood, medical director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at Jacobi Hospital, and Dr. Michelle McMacken, executive director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. Photo courtesy John Doyle

“I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi,” said Dr. Michelle McMacken, executive director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Healthy lifestyle behaviors are foundational to preventing and treating common chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s talented interdisciplinary team will provide patients with the guidance they need to adopt healthier habits, while also helping to address food insecurity and other key barriers to lifestyle change.”

Each site will partner with local community-based organizations to explore ways to support community members in nutrition and other aspects of lifestyle change. The Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi will collaborate with Throggs Neck Community Alliance in the Bronx.

“Given the broad range of health challenges facing our local Bronx communities, Throggs Neck Community Alliance is excited to welcome the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi,” said Angela Torres, executive director of the Throggs Neck Community Alliance. “Our community is plagued with growing rates of diabetes, cancer, and other diseases that can be curbed with the implementation of foundational lifestyle approaches. This program provides supportive care, as well as the tools necessary to walk alongside Bronxites in a pathway towards optimal health.”

Once all of the sites are launched, the program will be able to accommodate nearly 4,000 patients per year. With support from the City of New York, NYC Health + Hospitals will commit $3 million this year and approximately $5 million annually in future years to fund staffing and programmatic services for the Lifestyle Medicine Programs.

“I joined the new Lifestyle Medicine Program a month ago, and already I feel so much better,” said Skyler Myres, a patient at Jacobi. “I no longer have diabetes. My blood pressure is lower, and I no longer need to take one of my blood pressure medications. I have more energy. I feel it in the morning when I exercise – it’s easier to do things than it was before.”

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