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Harris Health System Awarded National Recognition from America’s Essential Hospitals

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HOUSTON (June 24, 2021) — Harris Health System received the 2021 Gage Award honorable mention for population health from America’s Essential Hospitals for its work addressing nutritional needs and other social determinants of health affecting patients with diabetes.

America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents more than 300 safety-net hospitals nationwide that care for underserved and economically disadvantaged patients, announced the award during its virtual annual conference.

“On behalf of Harris Health System, I’m proud to accept the 2021 Honorable Mention Gage Award from America’s Essential Hospitals for our population health initiatives,” says Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO, Harris Health System. “Taking a cross-sector approach to improving our patients’ health is an imperative for our system. Our food, nutrition and chronic disease management “hubs” not only provide direct clinical services, healthy foods and education through our Food farmacy sites, they also house partner resources and expanded linkages to community supports to sustain the health improvements our patients achieve. We look forward to expanding our Food Rx program, as well as our ability to capture long-term population health measures that further showcase the impact of this important work.”

Harris Health’s program, Food Rx, is a partnership with Houston Food Bank, The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health and H-E-B grocers that targets patients with food insecurity and diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes. Participants join a nine-month program that includes biweekly “walk and learn” sessions with a diabetes educator to receive 30 pounds of free fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins from on-site food farmacy locations.

In its first year, more than 650 patients enrolled with about half having hemoglobin A1c (the three-month measure for glucose) levels greater than 7%. At the end of their nine-month enrollment, patients saw A1c levels drop an average of 0.72 percentage points, improved nutrition knowledge and increased daily fruit and vegetable consumption—with a 38% increase in patients reporting continued lifestyle changes like high confidence in day-to-day use of cooking techniques to prepare fresh meals.

The Gage Awards, named after AEH’s founder Larry Gage, honor and share successful and creative member hospital programs that improve patient care and meet community needs. The award for population health recognizes activities focused on social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, homelessness, language barriers and other socioeconomic factors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and acts of racial injustice that have marked the past year magnified the role of our hospitals as healing forces in their communities, both inside and outside the hospital walls,” said America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. “We are proud to recognize Harris Health System and our other awardees for their continued efforts to innovate with limited resources and during challenging times.”


To view Harris Health’s winning submission, visit America’s Essential Hospitals.

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