I am a family physician, and I care for many patients with hypertension, diabetes, or both. At the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, we realized that many of our patients could not afford healthy food. We started screening all patients with the Hunger Vital Sign and learned that 67% of our patients were food insecure! We partnered with Greater Boston Food Bank and Project Bread to offer a monthly mobile market and assistance with SNAP enrollment on-site at the health center.
My patient Mr. C chose between buying medications and buying food every month: his diabetes and hypertension were out of control, and every visit with him I felt like I was talking past him. Why adjust medications he couldn't afford? Why would he keep coming back if I couldn't actually improve his health? We were both frustrated. Once the health center made these partnerships, I immediately helped Mr. C register for the GBFB mobile market and told him about Neighbors in Need, a local food pantry. Now I see him--and 450 other patients--picking up 25lbs of fresh produce once per month. Mr. C and I always hug when I hand him his fruits or veggies, and I finally feel like I'm treating his diabetes: his blood sugar is at goal for the first time in years! Offering my patients access to food has made me a better doctor.
Not long ago, I introduced myself to another patient for our first visit, and he interrupted me: "I know who you are Dr. Quinn. You're the vegetable lady!!" He had seen me volunteering with GBFB. I have never been prouder of a title than I am of "Vegetable Lady."
Review from #MyGivingStory