Houston, TX

Harris Health System receives 2021 Gage Award from America's essential hospitals

Jessica Yang

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HOUSTON, TX — Harris Health System receives the 2021 Gage Award honorable mention for population health from America’s Essential Hospitals for its work providing nutritional needs and other social purposes of health affecting patients with diabetes.

America's Essential Hospitals, which represents more than three hundred safety-net hospitals nationwide that care for underserved and economically disadvantaged patients, announced the award during its virtual annual conference.

“On behalf of Harris Health System, I’m proud to accept the 2021 Honorable Mention Gage Award from America’s Essential Hospitals for our population health initiatives,” said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO, Harris Health System.

One of Harris Health’s programs is Food Rx, which is in partnership with Houston Food Bank, The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health and H-E-B grocers.

The program targets patients with food insecurity and those diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes. Participants will join a nine-month program that includes biweekly “walk and learn” sessions with a diabetes educator to receive thirty pounds of free fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins from on-site food pharmacy locations.

In its first year, there were over 650 patients enrolled with about half having hemoglobin A1c (the three-month measure for glucose) levels greater than seven percent.

At the end of their nine-month enrollment, patients saw A1c levels drop an average of 0.72 percentage points, improved nutrition knowledge and increased daily fruit and vegetable consumption—with a 38 percent increase in patients reporting continued lifestyle changes, such as high confidence in daily use of cooking techniques to prepare fresh meals.

Initially, the Gage Awards was named after AEH’s founder, Larry Gage. He's known to honor and share successful and creative member hospital programs that improve patient care and meet community needs.

The award for population health identifies activities focused on social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, homelessness, language barriers and other socioeconomic factors.

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