Fighting the Bronx's Obesity Epidemic

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Urban Health Plan (UHP) celebrated the official opening of its most recent health center, the Simpson Pavilion, this morning at 9:00. The new, state-of-the-art, 54,000-square-foot facility will enable UHP to care for an additional 20,000 South Bronx residents. It will house UHP's adult medicine, walk-in pediatrics, behavioral health, and OB/GYN departments, as well as a fitness center for patients and a demonstration kitchen designed by UHP partner Canyon Ranch Institute and the chefs of the world-renowned Canyon Ranch Health Resort.

Included in this major expansion, the new demonstration kitchen is part of a long-standing partnership between the nonprofit Canyon Ranch Institute (CRI), which brings life-enhancing programs to underserved communities, and Urban Health Plan, a network of community hospitals in the Bronx and Queens. The Simpson Pavilion demonstration kitchen will be the pilot site of the CRI Healthy Table program. A UHP nutritionist was trained to lead the program through a culinary internship with the Canyon Ranch culinary department led by Corporate Chef Scott Uehlein in Tucson, Arizona.

Urban Health Plan and Canyon Ranch Institute experts co-developed the CRI Healthy Table program to pilot in the Bronx, which was also the first pilot site for the award-winning CRI Life Enhancement Program. The goal of CRI Healthy Table is to create a healthier community through food and cooking education delivered in an evidence-based, integrative, high-quality, culturally proficient, and health literate manner through programs that are accessible to all community members.

"We have been a partner with Canyon Ranch Institute since 2007. Together, we have taken Canyon Ranch's Life Enhancement Program, which is offered at the world's premier health and wellness resort in Tucson, Arizona, and created our own version for use with our patients in the Bronx," said Paloma Hernandez, MPH, MS, president and CEO of Urban Health Plan. "As a result of this partnership, we have seen improvements in our patients' health, including weight loss, less depression, and decreases in HG A1C levels," she added.

"The Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program has many components, and nutrition is one of them. Our new demonstration kitchen and CRI Healthy Table program allow us to provide hands-on cooking classes to enable patients and community residents to learn how to cook healthy meals. This is particularly important in the Bronx, a borough that has once again been identified in the County Health Rankings as one of the unhealthiest counties in New York State," said Elvira Rella, RD, director of Nutrition at Urban Health Plan.

Through the CRI Healthy Table program, community residents will have access to lunch-and-learn sessions, cooking demonstrations, and hands-on cooking classes that feature delicious, affordable, and nutritious meals and recipes. The program also includes a visit to a local farmer's market and grocery store tours to help guide participants in making healthy food choices, including understanding nutrition and ingredient labels.

"Urban Health Plan is a model for health care delivery of the future," said Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and president of Canyon Ranch Institute. "Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, are the most costly health problems facing our nation. Together with Canyon Ranch Institute, Urban Health Plan is providing integrative health and wellness programs and services to the community where I was raised, and I am so grateful for the significant health improvements that all residents have access to and can appreciate."

"CRI Healthy Table combines nutrition science with the opportunity for people to personally experience shopping for, cooking, and eating healthy foods in a welcoming, beautiful setting within their own community," said Jennifer Cabe, MA, executive director and board member of Canyon Ranch Institute. "We are proud to work in partnership with Urban Health Plan to demonstrate that the best practices of health and wellness pioneered at Canyon Ranch are replicable and sustainable and continue to make a positive difference for people in low-income communities."

The Simpson Pavilion is Urban Health Plan's ninth clinic site. It was financed through a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the New York City Council, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Ruben Diaz, and new market tax credits (NMTC). The combined $37.8 million NMTC transaction was structured with funds from Enterprise, a national leader in community development and one of the largest allocates of NMTC, the Nonprofit Finance Fund and Stonehenge Community Development. Goldman Sachs provided NMTC equity to the project as well as debt financing.

 

Source: Urban Health Plan; Canyon Ranch Institute, canyonranchinstitute.org