Hospital shares updates at Rotary meeting

Fresh Food Farmacy, Geisinger-At-Home among keynote topics

LEWISTOWN — The soon-to-be Fresh Food Farmacy and five-month-old Geisinger At Home programs were among many Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital updates shared by Chief Administrative Officer Kirk Thomas at yesterday’s Rotary Club of Lewistown meeting.

Thomas, a member of the Rotary Club of Mifflintown, advised his fellow Lewistown Rotarians that those with higher levels of glycated hemoglobin, or A1c, will be eligible to participate in the Fresh Food Farmacy program when it becomes available in the Juniata Valley. Launched in July 2016 at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital in Northumberland County, the Fresh Food Farmacy program was designed “to deliver the gold standard of diabetes care by providing diabetes education and healthy food in a sensitive, caring and respectful manner,” according to “…many people lack access to healthy food or knowledge about a healthy diet. Our ‘food as medicine’ approach puts this research into action, combating high obesity rates, pre-diabetes and diabetes by providing fresh, healthy food to those most in need.”

Thomas said that the program in Northumberland County showed a 2.5 A1c point reduction for their Farmacy patients and that GLH patients enrolled in the program will receive two meals per day for their entire family from the Farmacy. Thomas added that Farmacy patients will have the opportunity to work with a dietitian and learn how to prepare the fresh foods in a healthy manner.

“This is where health care is going…improving wellness, not just sickness,” Thomas said.

Thomas also spoke about the Geisinger At Home program, which launched in April, for patients with chronic health issues that are frequently treated at the hospital.

“It’s above and beyond home care,” Thomas said, as the program sends Nurse Practioners into patients’ homes as well as offers more extensive treatment options in-home, such as infusions.

“What better place to treat someone than in their home,” Thomas remarked.

Thomas also highlighted the Family Practice Residency program, the increase in outpatient programs such as vascular and spinal surgery as well as interventional radiology, and new physicians coming in, such as a urologist and several Primary Care Practioners, as well as the retirement of Ear, Nose and Throat doctor Carlos Recalde. Furthermore, Thomas said neurologists, psychiatrists and other specialists are being recruited based on the results of the January community health needs assessment and advised that patient care at GLH has shifted to 70 percent outpatient and 30 percent inpatient. Thomas ended his presentation by introducing Lexie Arnold, GLH’s first Administrative Fellow, who graduated from Penn State University with a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration and started her fellowship in July 2016.

Other items addressed at the meeting included:

¯Meeting six guest attendees, including Mifflin County High School students and an honorary Rotarian.

¯Announcing upcoming events such as the Polio Survivors luncheon on Oct. 16, the Rotary Foundation dinner on Oct. 20 and the evening social on Oct. 23.

¯Club participation in the Goose Fest on Sept. 29.