PARMA, Ohio – It’s one thing to tell a patient with a chronic illness to change their diet and quite another to show them how to achieve an often difficult goal.
That’s the Enigma Executive Director of the Parma Hospital Healthcare Foundation, Marcia Ferguson, has been independently profiled by various staff at UH Parma Medical Center over the past year.
“I will say that about three months ago I was approached by a couple of my co-workers to get some food to give to some of our patients,” Ferguson said. “I was told that they don’t buy quality food because they don’t have the money.
“Diet is very important anyway, but when you have a chronic illness, your body is kind of under siege. You really need good nutrition as part of your arsenal.
Then, about a month ago, the executive director was approached about the same issue involving malnourished cancer patients who need their nutrition more than ever.
The identification of such a widespread need affecting patients has led UH Parma Medical Center to announce that it will open a Food For Life Market on its Powers Boulevard campus.
Ferguson said other UH community hospitals have successfully opened such equipment.
“We will have contracts with local food pantries and a dietician, who will play a key role in interventions so they can teach people about better nutrition,” Ferguson said.
“It’s one thing to give people a bag of food, but when someone has a chronic illness and they’re not educated on how to eat for sustenance or how to use food as medicine, he needs help.”
The other benefit of the Food For Life Market is that it provides patients with dignity in the face of not only chronic disease, but also food insecurity.
“For some people, it’s really hard to ask for food aid,” Ferguson said. “But we wrap it up in your doctor wants to refer you to the Food For Life market so you can learn how to eat better.
“At another Food For Life Markets, patients told us they would never spend the money on groceries because they didn’t know how to cook special vegetables or whole wheat or whole grain noodles. If you have little money, you will not buy things that you do not know how to prepare well or if you do not know if you will like them.
Ferguson said the Food For Life marketplace aligns perfectly with community efforts at UH Parma Medical Center.
“This fits into our current new practice of interventions for people with chronic conditions,” Ferguson said. “We provide them with tools and educational support once they leave the hospital.”
As for the opening of the new place, it depends on the financing. So far, the Parma Hospital Health Care Foundation has raised about half of its estimated start-up cost of $100,000. This includes a recent donation of $20,000 from the Rotary Club of Parma.
“Once it’s up and running, it’s not that expensive to run,” Ferguson said. “We want a lot of money raised because we don’t just want to have one year and then go into year two and struggle.
“Hopefully we will be open by the end of the year or early next year.”
Read more news from the Parma Sun Post here.