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Lifestyle Medicine Program Expands to NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull 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

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

Nov 16, 2023

Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie, NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Michelle McMacken, NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull CEO Gregory Calliste, NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull Director of Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Gül Bahtiyar, patient Davi Baez, and others celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull.

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

“As we work across agencies to ensure all New Yorkers have equitable access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food so they can lead longer, healthier lives, we must be equally relentless in our upstream targeting of the major drivers of illness and inequities,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “We applaud NYC Health + Hospitals’ continued partnership in increasing life expectancy holistically in underserved communities across the five boroughs. Through this access expansion, New Yorkers disproportionately impacted by chronic conditions in Brooklyn will finally have an opportunity and tools to make the transition to the whole food, plant-based diet along with other healthful behavior changes that they deserve.”

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

“I am pleased to announce the launch of our Lifestyle Medicine Program,” said Gregory Calliste, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “This initiative marks a significant stride in our commitment to quality healthcare, emphasizing the central role of healthy lifestyle habits in preventing and treating chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Our program is distinguished by our dedicated team committed to empowering our community to take charge of their health and well-being. The Lifestyle Medicine Program is a testament to that commitment.”

“Healthier lifestyle choices will lead to a life with significant improvements in many chronic diseases, and our goal is to support people to make sustainable changes which ultimately brings health and happiness,” said Gül Bahtiyar, MD, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “Imagine a person who no longer needs to inject insulin for diabetes or take medications for blood pressure. This would be a success story that needs to be shared with many.”

“We know that many chronic diseases can be managed, improved and even reversed with lifestyle changes,” said Jonathan Giftos, MD, Chief of Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “But the process can feel overwhelming, and so often our patients are expected to make these changes without sufficient education, coaching and support. So I’m thrilled that we will be able to offer the Lifestyle Medicine program here at Woodhull, providing us the time and the resources to effectively partner with our patients as they make changes in their lives to achieve their health goals.”

“Lifestyle Medicine is a medical specialty that uses lifestyle interventions to treat chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity,” said Tania Desgrottes, MA, Associate Executive Director of Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “Providing our patients with the tools and resources they need to combat chronic illnesses is a major step forward in improving the quality of life for so many of our patients. The program has a strong focus on a whole-food diet, physical activity, sleep management, and stress management. We look forward to providing this additional clinical service to our patients to help them reach their health and wellness goals.”

“The doctors and the staff here are very friendly, very attentive,” said Davi V. Baez, a patient in the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “It’s a team that cares for you, and they’re genuine. They’re excited for your progress. And that motivates anyone to continue. Next week is Thanksgiving, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to do differently this year. Instead of mashed potatoes, I’m going to have mashed cauliflower. I want to eat a rainbow of vegetables – red and yellow. This program is long overdue for me. This is really going to impact a lot of people.”

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/Woodhull will collaborate with RiseBoro in Brooklyn.

“RiseBoro is excited to partner with Woodhull Hospital to be part of the Lifestyle Medicine program,” said Jasmine Bethancourt, Supervisor of Community Food & Nutrition Programming for RiseBoro. “This will provide an alternative way to for our clients to manage their chronic conditions. We also see this as a way to support the existing wellness initiatives that we offer in-house. This is a way for RiseBoro to broaden the programs that are available to the community members of Bushwick.” 

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.