Hudson River HealthCare
Healthy Weight Collaborative - Phase 2
By Julie Eisen
Meet the Team
At Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare), a community health center in Haverstraw, New York, a staggering 71% of the 2,000 patients served are either overweight or obese. With a high need for intervention, the Haverstraw team in the Healthy Weight Collaborative is working to address this urgent issue in their community.
An hour north of New York City, Haverstraw has a large low-income population, says Katherine Brieger, team leader and Executive Director of the Planetree Institute at HRHCare. “The population we serve tends to have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and there is a high reliance on high-calorie foods. There’s also limited access to spaces for physical activity.”
The team is focusing their efforts on the entire patient population served at HRHCare, which includes all ages. “The clinic sees everyone, and if a family member is impacted, it helps to have the whole family involved,” says Brieger.
To educate and engage their community, the team has found particular success in walking clubs. Adriana Bernal, team member and Outreach Worker at HRHCare, started a walking club in 2009 which gained popularity, but it lacked continuity. The team decided to integrate the walking club into the collaborative work and establish it as a permanent program. “We wanted to help the community come up with ways that would focus on environmental changes they could afford and would let all members of the family participate,” says Brieger. The walking club seemed like the perfect way to get started.
With members ranging from age three through 80, the walking club meets twice a week at the health center and walks three to six miles, keeping track of their progress with pedometers. During warm months, the group walks around a nearby baseball field and river, and as part of the new permanent program, the club has continued during the winter months, walking in a large room at the health center. “The parents bring their children with them, so it’s very diverse in age,” says Bernal. “They look at it as their routine already…they don’t want to stop!”
To expand the walking program and engage different community sectors, the team is in the process of training other walking club “captains” so the program can add more groups with different walking routes. So far five new people have been trained, including representatives from the public library, the department of health, and a local elementary school. The team plans to train more captains this coming spring, with a goal of having 15 new captains by the end of 2013.