During a virtual meeting, several medical professionals and specialists explained and answered questions to the ethnic media about the expansion of the NYC Health + Hospitals Lifestyle Medicine Program, a nationally innovative program that promotes health improvements in the communities, based on a change in lifestyle, including eating habits.
Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, and Dr. Michelle McMacken, CEO of Lifestyle Medicine, spoke with community media to explain the expansion of the nutrition and lifestyle program, which offers a new plant-based diet to treat chronic health problems.
Dr. Katz reported that there are many Asian and Latino patients who can benefit from this program that helps those living with health issues such as type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity-related health issues, plant-based medicine program can help them improve their lifestyle, it teaches them how to become healthier with a better lifestyle.
Specialists participating in the virtual meeting included: Dr. Mitchell Katz, President, and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals; Dr. Michelle McMacken, Executive Director, Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine, NYC Health + Hospitals; Dr. Nichola Davis, Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals and Lilian Correa, Nutritionist, Lifestyle Medicine Program, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.
Dr. McMacken, who has spent 18 years as a physician at Bellevue Hospital, said there is very little nutrition training in the United States and around the world on the direct link between what you eat and the elevated risk factor for developing and dying from chronic diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and diabetes, heart problems and obesity.
The program invites patients to talk about their lifestyle and diet, to make changes while keeping food delicious, as well as to talk about positive lifestyle changes to improve health, such as including exercise. to the daily routine, getting enough sleep, among others.
This innovative program can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, in addition to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, can help achieve weight loss, decreases inflammation in the body, and reduce the need for medications.
Among other things, the program promotes nutritional improvements based on a change in diet. A plant-based diet is a diet focused on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds. Minimize or avoid animal foods, sweets, and highly processed foods, as scientific studies confirm that a plant-based diet has many health benefits.
To join this program, you must be interested in moving to a more plant-based diet. But we welcome you even if you’re not ready to go 100% plant-based. Our team will work with you to make changes at the pace you feel comfortable with.
This program offers individual and group training on exercise, sleep health, mindfulness, stress reduction, and general wellness. Participants should be prepared to participate at least once a week for several months and stay in regular contact with the team, which will help them be more successful in making lifestyle changes.
The expansion of the program that was initially established in Brooklyn County will provide patients living with chronic illnesses with the tools to make healthy lifestyle changes, including an emphasis on adopting nutritional changes that include a primarily plant-based diet.
The Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program is currently available at Bellevue Hospital and will expand to serve qualifying NYC Health + Hospitals adult patients at Jacobi, Lincoln, Woodhull, Kings County, and Elmhurst hospitals, as well as in Gotham Health, Vanderbilt, including all the municipal hospital system in the five boroughs of the city.
It is the first program of its kind at the national level and there are two ways to refer patients to the program, directly in the community, in municipal hospitals, where you must verify if you qualify and the other way is through your doctor, in this case, it is very important to stay in communication, between the program and the private doctor, to keep the patient informed with the same message.
Dr. McMacken said, “It is impressive to see that barriers to making healthy lifestyle changes are driven by traditions, cultural customs, or family circumstances. Three years ago with the intercession of Mayor Adams as Brooklyn Borough President, we started a program to train doctors to help patients change diet, exercise, and sleep better, and when patients were more independent, that change worked and you could see the positive changes in the patients, improvements in blood pressure, many managed to put their diabetes in remission, lower their cholesterol.”
“This program is one of the first of its kind in the public health care system in the United States and is going to be implemented and expanded to all five boroughs to reduce chronic disease problems, for which we are very pleased to give a solution to the communities that need it most.”
BENEFITS THE LATINO COMMUNITY
For her part, Dr. Nichola Davis said: “This is a dream come true, because it is what patients need, a type of egalitarian health care, which is not just about eating more fruits and vegetables, which helps lower of weight, but the recommendations and the program go further, helping to make concrete changes to achieve improvement, that is, to improve health, we are very happy.”
“We are moving with the families so that they make improvements in their lifestyle. It is a privilege to work together with this team, in this project to achieve a more personal approach with the patient and extend it to communities in which the population is the most affected, such as Latinos with problems of obesity and diabetes, who usually feel hope.”
“Usually when this issue is discussed, most of the information is in English, it is very limited in Spanish, now we will have this wonderful tool, it is something that is happening, my education is about nutrition and blood studies and I have been able to see that, especially with the collapse of the health system since 2020, now with this project we will be able to have more tools to give patients the chance to live an optimal life.”
“The patient will have access to our team of experts, including a plant-based physician, registered dietitian, and health coach, who will work with you to create a personalized plan to “improve” your lifestyle. We focus on six aspects of lifestyle change: a healthy plant-based diet, physical activity, stress reduction, healthy sleep, social connections, and avoiding dangerous substances like tobacco.”
The program includes individual appointments and regular group classes, both of which are important to your success. It also offers educational materials; recipes and cooking tips, classes on grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, exercise, sleep, and stress management techniques, as well as the opportunity to connect with others who are making lifestyle changes.
Enrolling patients will receive a comprehensive medical evaluation by a team physician, with particular attention to current lifestyle behaviors and social needs. Adults with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and/or obesity-related health problems are eligible for this program, which accepts many insurance plans.
Finally, Dr. McMacken reminded me that all patients are welcome, and to make an appointment, you should call 347-507-3695.