Telluride Med Center: Good Food is Good Medicine!

Telluride Med Center: Good Food is Good Medicine!

The Telluride Regional Medical Center, in a partnership with Tri-County Health Network, has relaunched a program to put more fresh food into the kitchens of those facing chronic disease or without reliable access to nutritious food.

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FoodRx, a seven-week program originally piloted by Tri-County Health Network at Basin Clinic in Naturita and the Uncompahgre Medical Center in Norwood, provides access to free fruits and vegetables at Clark’s Market in Telluride. Participants receive $120 in vouchers over the course of the program. Participants also receive coaching, recipes, and support.

To date, 40 people have participated.

According to Rasa Kaunelis, director of strategic initiatives at Tri-County Health Network, “all of the participants in the FoodRx pilot reported that the program helped them eat more fruits and vegetables and made them feel healthier. The extra money and new recipes make it possible for people to try new foods and indulge in produce they may not normally afford.”

Ryan O’Donnell, a care manager at the Telluride Regional Medical Center, is overseeing the program and intends to recruit dozens of participants throughout the new year.

“We are looking forward to reintroducing this program to the community. It has been amazing to see the impact it has made on reducing some financial stress while also providing a fun and engaging program. My favorite part of the program is that each participant sets their own individual goals, which makes it practical and realistic,” said O’Donnell.

Participants — who are recommended to the program by their primary care provider — will maintain biweekly goals and meet with medical center care managers, like O’Donnell, twice a month to discuss their experiences.

“Tri-County has been a major supporter of this program, providing lots of educational resources, best practices, and most impactful are the gift cards that participants can redeem locally for fresh food,” said O’Donnell.

Support for the three-year grant was awarded to Tri-County Health Network by the Heath Resources and Services Administration. Tri-County Health Network will continue offering the FoodRx program to patients at the Basin Clinic and Uncompahgre Medical Center and will look to expand the program to another clinic in 2021.

“I am optimistic that this program will allow us to improve knowledge about how to live a healthier lifestyle through food and exercise in our community. I am hopeful that FoodRx will make cooking interesting and less intimidating. I am excited to see how this program will reshape our local dinner tables.”

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