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Program Prescribes Nutritious Food for Malnourished Patients

A program introduced at Lee Memorial Health System, a member of America’s Essential Hospitals, goes beyond medical treatment by ensuring that discharged patients have one thing that is vital to their recovery: nutritious food.

Flavor Harvest @ Home, a medical nutrition therapy program, provides meals to patients who are malnourished or could potentially become malnourished.

In 2015, Lee Memorial studied 1,900 patients and found that about 17 percent were malnourished. Treating malnourishment can prevent readmissions and reduce cost of care, according to Lee Memorial.

The program works with physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals to determine whether patients are malnourished or are at risk for malnutrition after discharge. Patients are screened for

  • decline in muscle mass;
  • fluid accumulation;
  • insufficient energy intake;
  • loss of fat stores;
  • weakened functional status; and
  • weight loss.

Patients who have at least two of these issues receive nutritional counseling by a registered dietitian during their hospital stay, and then are eligible to receive nutritionally balanced meals after discharge. Participants also can consult a dietitian throughout the course of the program.

The four-week program includes individually packaged meals and snacks, including fruit, vegetables, ready-to-eat dishes, and frozen meals with cooking instructions. The meals are customized to meet patients’ needs based on medical condition. They are delivered to patients’ homes by program staff each week.

The program is available at no cost to patients through grants from Bank of America and The Allen Foundation. The funding supports about 60 patients annually.

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About the Author

Michelle Rosenfeld is senior writer/editor at America's Essential Hospitals.

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