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Lifestyle Medicine Program Expands to NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County 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

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

Nov 30, 2023

NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice-President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health Dr. Ted Long, NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Michelle McMacken, NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program Dr. Melissa Lee, and others celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County.

New York, NY — NYC Health + Hospitals today announced that its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program has expanded to NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in Brooklyn. This is the third 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 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, and Kings County, which have already launched, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, 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.

“Being a Food Forward NYC means ensuring all New Yorkers can make healthful behavior changes, which for some, might include transitioning to a whole food, plant-based diet,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “We’re grateful for Health + Hospitals’ continued partnership in the upstream targeting of the major drivers of illness and inequities critical to increasing life expectancy holistically in underserved communities across the five boroughs. Through this lifestyle medicine expansion, New Yorkers disproportionately impacted by chronic conditions in Kings County will have access to the tools and interdisciplinary support that can help them the lead longer, healthier lives they deserve.”

“I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County,” 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/Kings County for offering this invaluable resource to patients and the community.”

“The launch of our Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County is a testament to our commitment to holistic wellness,” said Sheldon McLeod, NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re excited to provide a program that equips our patients with resources for adopting healthier habits, such as access to plant-based eating materials and individual counseling sessions. With our Lifestyle Medicine Program, we’re revolutionizing healthcare by offering more than just treatment—we’re offering empowerment.”

“I have high cholesterol and prediabetes, so my doctor referred me to the Lifestyle Medicine Program,” said Timothy Nicholls, a patient of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County. “I’m learning how to make better choices about what I’m eating. I’m eating more greens, more celery, more fruit. I’m learning how to get more exercise and walk more. The program is exactly what I was looking for.”

“This is a program with a difference.” said Paulette James, a patient of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County. “It’s getting to know you and know exactly what’s bothering you – how you live, your activities, how you eat. It’s beautiful. The time they take to get to know you has blown me away.”

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/Kings County will collaborate with United Community Centers in Brooklyn.

“We are very excited to be able to collaborate to share preventative solutions to community members looking to live healthier,” said Sarah Bacio, Assistant Project Director at East New York Farms, a project of United Community Centers. “I hope that this collaboration strengthens our relationship with NYC Health + Hospitals and provides our market patrons with valuable resources and support to empower them to make healthier choices. Connecting folks with fresh, organic and locally grown produce and providing spaces for them to learn how to make more informed health decisions is invaluable!”

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
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.