Baptist Health Tips the Scales in Favor of Healthier Lifestyles

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – From adding an on-campus farmers market to revamping cafeteria menus to include leaner choices with lower prices, Baptist Health is putting its weight behind many new programs to help its employees and visitors lead healthier lifestyles.

“We seek to be an organization that’s about health and not just health care,” said Troy Wells, Baptist Health president, and CEO.

As part of Baptist Health’s participation in the national Healthier Hospital Initiative (HHI) and the implementation of its BHealthy campaign, the healthcare system has started several unique programs and opportunities for its employees and visitors.

The first opportunity began about two years ago when Baptist Health partnered with Heifer USA and nearby St. Joseph Farm to use local produce in the Little Rock cafeteria. The relationship with Heifer expanded this year to include participation in Heifer USA’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. Through CSA, employees pay a reasonable fee and in return receive about 6 to 10 pounds of Arkansas grown produce each week for 18-weeks. Items have included everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to harvested nuts and honey. Through the CSA program, employees not only enjoy wholesome fresh staples, but they also support small, local farmers by participating.

Farmers Market

In addition to the weekly produce deliveries, the healthcare system has organized and now holds a farmers market on the Little Rock campus. About eight to 10 farmers from central Arkansas come each Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sell loads of tomatoes, okra, peppers, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, peaches, eggs and more. The BHealthy Farmers Market, which is open to employees, hospital visitors and the community, will continue through October. The market will be expanding to Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock beginning July 23 and will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays.

Man cooking at Farmers Market Fresh Farmers Market vegetables

But even with the availability of nutritious fruits and vegetables, sometimes people need help learning how to prepare healthy meals. That’s exactly what Baptist Health chef Len Thompson and local chef Donnie Ferneau have done through cooking demonstrations. The chefs use the produce from the CSA program and the farmers market to illustrate to others how easy it is to prepare healthier meals for themselves and their families. Two more BHealthy demonstrations by Thompson are scheduled for July 24 and August 28 at 11 a.m. in the Women’s Resource Center conference room in the Hickingbotham Outpatient Center.

In addition, if employees want to eat healthier, but are not thrilled about cooking for themselves, they can now purchase prepackaged single-serve to-go meals from Good Food by Ferneau. Delivered weekly to the Little Rock campus, the delicious meals include locally grown vegetables and meats all prepared in a healthy way by Ferneau.

As the healthier choices and eat-local movement continues to gain momentum throughout the healthcare system, employees and guests will start seeing differences in all the Baptist Health cafeterias. As part of the BHealthy campaign, cafeterias will be adding educational signage and materials, introducing a new pricing strategy that benefits those who choose healthier food items and incorporating whole grains, all trans-fat free products and the use of some free-range and antibiotic-free meats.

“All these changes are no small matter and they don’t just happen overnight, but we’re committed to making changes as part of HHI and BHealthy to fulfill our vision to improve the health of Arkansans, which includes our employees and visitors,” said Wells.

HHI is the brainchild of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design and Practice Greenhealth, commissioned by more than 490 hospitals from 12 of the largest healthcare systems across the nation. Hospitals participating in HHI have committed to reaching certain leadership goals; encourage better eating practices and food choices; become sustainability stewards through recycling, waste reduction, and food waste reduction; and identify resources to achieve these goals.

With more than 175 points of access, including eight hospitals, Baptist Health is the state’s most comprehensive healthcare system committed to delivering “All Our Best” to Arkansans. To learn more about Baptist Health, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST.

HCWH is an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries working to transform the healthcare industry worldwide so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

Practice Greenhealth is a membership and networking organization for institutions and supplier companies in the healthcare community that has made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

CHD was formed in 1993 by a small cadre of pioneering healthcare and design professionals committed to advancing a singular idea – that design could be used to improve patient outcomes in healthcare environments.