Spectrum Health Receives National Award for Community Health Program

The American Hospital Association Recognizes Spectrum Health’s NOW Program with NOVA Award

Spectrum Health announced today that the American Hospital Association (AHA) has named it an AHA NOVA award winner. Spectrum Health is one of six hospitals in the country to be recognized for its outstanding contribution to improving community health for its Nutritional Options for Wellness (NOW) program. The NOW program’s “food prescriptions” allow those with chronic disease to receive nutritious food from local food pantries.

“Spectrum Health strives to improve the health of the people of West Michigan,” said Richard C. Breon, president & CEO, Spectrum Health.””We are honored to be recognized for our ongoing efforts to remove barriers to care by partnering with local not-for-profit agencies and community health organizations.”

Spectrum Health’s NOW program allows patients to receive a prescription from their physician for healthy foods at area food pantries. This collaborative effort is funded by Spectrum Health and coordinated with the area food pantries and the ACCESS group (All County Churches Emergency Support System), which is made up of 350 member congregations.

The majority of patients who participate in the NOW program have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cardiopulmonary disorders.’The improved diet not only helps control these conditions but also affects the factors contributing to them – obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high cholesterol.

“Typically these underserved patients often use the emergency room to treat their chronic diseases.’However, since the NOW program began in July 2004, we have seen significant improvement not only in the health of our patients but also in the way they are using the health care system,” said Mary Kay Kempker-VanDriel, director, Healthier Communities, Spectrum Health.'”Among patients who participate in the NOW program there are 25 percent’fewer in emergency room visits and a 44 percent’decrease in the number of hospitalizations.”

Spectrum Health will be honored for the NOVA award at a July 24 ceremony held during the AHA’s annual Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Diego.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 585,000-member health plan, Priority Health.’Spectrum Health’s 13,000 employees, 1,400 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.’The organization provided more than $100 million in community benefit during its 2006 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned more than 50 national awards during the past 10 years.