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Press Releases

Lifestyle Medicine Program Expands to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst as Part of Citywide Expansion

The program provides patients the tools to make healthy lifestyle changes, including access to plant-based diet resources and one-on-one counseling

Adults living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll

Elmhurst Hospital is one of six new NYC Health + Hospitals sites offering the Lifestyle Medicine Program this winter

Jan 11, 2024

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO Dr. Helen Arteaga Landaverde, NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Michelle McMacken, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst Dr. Lucy Gordon and others celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst.

New York, NY — NYC Health + Hospitals today announced that its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program has expanded to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst in Queens, the first time the program is available in Queens. This is the fourth of six new sites to make the program available citywide, following the recent launch of the program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull and Kings County in Brooklyn. The pilot program, launched at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in 2019 with the support of then-Borough President Eric Adams, has already seen hundreds of patients. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s team supports patients in making evidence-based lifestyle changes, including a healthful plant-based diet, increased physical activity, improved sleep habits, stress reduction, avoidance of substance use, and stronger social connections. Adults living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll. The program can accommodate 48 new patients each month, and the care team at each site includes physicians, nurse practitioner(s), certified nurse midwife (Woodhull only), a dietitian, a health coach, community health workers, a psychologist, a program coordinator, and an exercise trainer. The six new sites include NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, Woodhull, Kings County, and Elmhurst, which have already launched, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, and Gotham Health, Vanderbilt launching in the coming months. Current patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can get a referral to the program from their provider, and people who are not yet patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can see if they qualify to enroll in the program by contacting 347-507-3695.

“All New Yorkers should have the knowledge and resources needed to make healthful behavior changes, which for some, might include the transition to a whole food, plant-based diet,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “MOFP applauds NYC Health + Hospitals for yet another expansion of its lifestyle medicine program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, the first hospital in Queens to offer the program. Lifestyle medicine empowers patients to embrace lifestyle changes in the management of their chronic conditions. Expanding this model of care across all five boroughs is critical to increasing life expectancy and ensuring that all New Yorkers can live the longer, healthier lives they deserve no matter where they receive care.”

“I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst,” said Michelle McMacken, MD, FACP, DipABLM, Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Healthy lifestyle behaviors are foundational to preventing and treating common chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s talented interdisciplinary team will provide patients with the guidance they need to adopt healthier habits, while also helping to address food insecurity and other key barriers to lifestyle change. Kudos to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst for offering this invaluable resource to patients and the community.”

“We are very excited about launching the Lifestyle Medicine Program here at Elmhurst,” said Helen Arteaga Landaverde, PhD, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. “Our patients struggling with chronic disease conditions that are diet-related, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, will be further empowered to take control of their health and make good choices in the future. This program is another step towards helping close the health equity gap and ensuring that people in our community get the care they need and deserve.”

“Although it is true that over the years we have saved many lives by treating diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol with medications, it comes at a high monetary and convenience cost to our patients,” said Rand David, MD, Chief of Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. “With our Lifestyle Medicine Program, we now have a way to eliminate these conditions by correcting them at their root causes: immobility, overweight, and obesity. I am so grateful for this opportunity!”

“I’ve tried several programs over the years to improve my health, but nothing’s worked for me,” said Aurora Ronquillo, a patient of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. “I have obesity, back pain, and an autoimmune disease, but the Lifestyle Medicine Program has already opened me up to the possibilities for movement and exercise that will work for me. They’ve taught me about some healthy substitutes for food, and it tastes good! But the biggest impact so far is that I’m learning to accept myself in the mirror. I am so hopeful as I begin this journey.”

“I take two medications for diabetes, but my A1C levels are still too high,” said Yvonne Rachmat, a patient in the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. “So far, the Lifestyle Medicine Program has encouraged me to go for longer walks and use resistance bands to build my strength. I’ve also learned about portions of food to eat at each meal. I’m eating less rice now, and I have my salad with avocado instead of dressing. I’ve enjoyed this program so far, and I would recommend it to my friends.”

The Lifestyle Medicine’s nine-month program provides every patient with the following resources:

  • 6 to 9 one-on-one counseling sessions. Patients will have 2-3 visits each with a physician, nurse practitioner or certified nurse midwife, a dietitian, and a health coach to develop and implement a personalized care plan.
  • 14 weekly group classes. Topics include reading nutrition labels, grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, and sleep and stress management techniques.
  • 8 weekly exercise classes.Patients will work with an exercise trainer and take home a resistance band for strength training.
  • 6 free, monthly deliveries of seasonal fresh produce. Patients will work with dietitians to learn about incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet across culinary traditions and skill levels. Delicious and healthy recipes developed by the team’s dietitians accompany each produce box. (Launches early 2024)
  • Health Bucks. Patients will have access to Health Bucks, which are $2 coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at NYC farmers markets. Five of the seven program sites have farmers’ markets on their campus.
  • Culinary skills videos. Patients can learn cooking skills through short videos developed by the Lifestyle Medicine team in partnership with an online culinary school, Rouxbe. The videos will feature healthy cooking across various culinary traditions, including Caribbean, South American, Central American, and South Asian, and will be translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, and Haitian Creole. (Launches early 2024)
  • A plant-based cookbook. Cookbooks on plant-based eating for type 2 diabetes are available as well.
  • Support accessing benefits. Community health workers will help eligible patients access SNAP benefits and nutrition resources.

Each site will partner with local community-based organization(s) to explore ways to support community members in nutrition and other aspects of lifestyle change. The Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst will collaborate with The New York Hall of Science in Queens.

“I’m thrilled at the exciting collaboration between New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and Lifestyle Medicine!” said Delia Meza, Director of Family Learning and Community Partnerships at The New York Hall of Science. “It’s an incredible fusion that embodies the very essence of progress and holistic well-being. NYSCI’s dedication to fostering scientific curiosity and innovation, coupled with Lifestyle Medicine’s emphasis on preventive care and health optimization, marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration. This collaboration promises to improve the lives of our community members and empower them to make informed, proactive choices for their well-being. The prospect of this collaboration fills me with boundless optimism, knowing that our combined efforts will undoubtedly pave the way for a healthier, more informed community.”

Once all of the sites are launched, the program will be able to accommodate nearly 4,000 patients per year. With support from the City of New York, NYC Health + Hospitals will commit $3 million this year and approximately $5 million annually in future years to fund staffing and programmatic services for the Lifestyle Medicine Programs.

Particular attention has been placed on ensuring that the curriculum is relevant for patients from diverse backgrounds and experiences. For example, the Spanish-language curriculum reflects cultural adaptations, not simply a translation of the English-language version. Moreover, individual visits with the medical providers, dietitian, and health coach allow for tailored behavior change recommendations based on each patient’s social, financial, cultural, and family context.

Formal evaluations of the Bellevue pilot program revealed a successful implementation process, extremely high demand for services (more than 850 patients requested to enroll in the first few months), and positive health outcomes including clinically and statistically significant improvements in weight, glycemic control, and diastolic blood pressure.



MEDIA CONTACT: 212-788-3339; PressOffice@nychhc.org

About NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, part of the NYC Health + Hospitals health care system, is the major tertiary care provider in the borough of Queens. The 545-bed hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center, an Emergency Heart Care Station, a Thrombectomy Capable Stroke Receiving Center, a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Center of Excellence and a 911-Receiving Hospital. It is a premiere health care organization for several specialties, including surgery, cardiology, women’s health, pediatrics, rehabilitation medicine, renal services, and mental health services. Last year, the hospital received close to 700,000 ambulatory care visits and over 130,000 emergency room visits. The hospital has been nationally-ranked by US News and World Report in key areas, including Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Stroke, Hip Fracture, Kidney Failure, Orthopedics, Pneumonia, and COPD. Stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ElmhurstHosp.

About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.