By: Pam Halbach, WIC Director, Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency
Kenosha County ranks 64th out of 72 in the County Health rankings. However, much is being done in the community to alter these statistics. The Kenosha Health Improvement Project (K-HIP) is one such group that sought to reduce the impact of chronic diseases in Kenosha, WI, through policy, systems, and environmental strategies that improve access to healthy foods and beverages and strengthen community and clinical linkages.
Eat. Move. Thrive. is a non-pharmaceutical prescription pad being used by Kenosha providers to “write a prescription” for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, participating in a local cooking class on healthy eating, attending a fitness class to increase physical activity, or participating in a mental wellness activity. These innovative prescriptions will engage patients in improving their health and the health of their families.
According to the providers and patients who piloted the project, it was fun, easy to use, and helped in making healthy changes. As a result, one family started exercising together, several parents inquired about parenting classes, one patient cut tobacco use by half, and several patients stated they looked at the pad a few times a day which helped keep them on track with their goals. The Eat. Move. Thrive. prescription is accompanied by a brochure that directs patients or clients to resources that can help them accomplish their goals, which may range from eating more vegetables to increasing daily steps to engaging in self-care such as tobacco reduction or cessation.
Providers who participated were impressed with the results. One noted, “The concept is important to continue long-term. Whatever can give patients [as] a reminder to complete a self-evaluation of their health is worth it. It is another positive tool that the patient can use to visually see their progress and report back on.”
A series of videos were created as a tool to discuss the initiative with local providers, promote in their WIC office waiting room, and use for outreach and for presenting about programming. However, the overall goal of this particular video was to engage providers. The Racine WIC office’s intentions were to showcase the diverse ways in which the Eat. Move. Thrive. initiative could be implemented by including narrative from a physician, a therapist, and a bilingual WIC dietitian. So far, the response has been impressive with two to three new providers signing on to use the non-prescription pads each week. In particular, the Department Head of Kenosha United Hospital System is currently working with ten nurses in the Medical/Surgical Unit to implement the non-pharmaceutical approaches when discharging patients to improve their health and recovery.
Additionally, RKCAA is showcasing the video when they go out and discuss the project with physicians and other providers. Not only does the video facilitate discussion on how to create behavior change, but also reminds physicians and providers of the WIC Program and reminds them to encourage families to use their farmer’s market checks. To see more of the videos they created you can go to their YouTube page here.
K-HIP was funded by the Community Partners for Healthy Mothers and Children grant through the National WIC Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and administered by the Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency’s Women Infants and Children clinic. K-HIP is a collaboration of multiple stakeholders in the community. Dr. Junith Thompson, a local OB/GYN of Kenosha, RKCAA - WIC staff, Kenosha County Division of Health, Kenosha Community Health Center, Kenosha YMCA, and UW-Extension designed and developed the prescription pad.