Meigs Health Matters… The PRx Program

By Sara Hill - Contributing columnist

Amidst the pandemic, creating a healthy diet is more important than ever. A healthy diet is especially important for those living with chronic diseases. This year, the Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Program administered by the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) had the pleasure of conducting a pilot program providing produce vouchers to individuals living with Type 2 Diabetes. Seven residents were offered to participate in this Program, named PRx, via Holzer (Meigs) Clinic, which acted as the prescribing location. The duration of the PRx Program was from May to October following the Meigs County Farmers’ Market (MCFM) schedule.

Each month the patients were provided with $90 worth of vouchers redeemable for fresh produce only. The patients were able to redeem their vouchers at Powell’s Food Fair in Pomeroy and the MCFM. In addition to their vouchers, patients received educational materials including yummy recipes to try while incorporating fresh fruits and/or vegetables into their diets. Throughout the six-month period, the patients were asked to track their health progress. This included weight, blood sugar and pre and post A1C blood levels. The idea was to show how incorporating fresh produce into one’s diet can improve the condition of a chronic illness.

Not only is the idea to improve a chronic illness, but to improve quality of life. Living with a chronic disease can be challenging; consequently, PRx was implemented to encourage healthier eating and to expand tastebuds. CHC, which is funded by the Ohio Department of Health, is committed to preventing and reducing chronic disease statewide. Through cross-sector collaboration, we are activating communities to improve access to and affordability of healthy food and increase opportunities for physical activity where Ohioans live, work and play. By implementing sustainable evidence-based strategies, CHC is creating a culture of health.

Efforts will continue into 2021 with the establishment of community gardens within Meigs County. These gardens will be available to all Meigs County residents, who are encouraged to utilize the produce. Fresh produce will be available for everyone at no cost promoting CHC’s vision of making the healthy choice the easy choice. The community gardens were inspired by the PRx Program and achieving health equity for the entire county. The community garden construction will begin in 2021 by CHC in conjunction with MCFM members.

The PRx Program was made possible with CHC coordination and funding; Holzer (Meigs) Clinic recruiting patients and being the prescribing location; the MCFM and Powell’s Food Fair in Pomeroy participating as redemption sites. PRx was able to support our local farmers and economy while improving the health of seven Meigs County residents.

In summary, the Program was a success with eager partners and participants. Approximately $2,000 was spent on produce at the redemption sites, thus, improving livelihoods within and sparking ideas for sustainability for the entire County. The last step of the Program will be to gather all the health data from participants and disseminate the findings. All health data released will be compliant with the MCHD’s HIPAA Policy. The findings will be used to inform the community garden projects in 2021.

By Sara Hill

Contributing columnist

Sara Hill is the CHC Project Director at the Meigs County Health Department.

Sara Hill is the CHC Project Director at the Meigs County Health Department.