Wishard-Eskenazi Health Builds on Community Wellness Program

One-of-a-kind sky farm, partnership with Growing Places Indy and neighborhood gardens planned

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.630.7808
Pager: 317.310.5972  
Email: todd.harper@wishard.edu

Indianapolis, August 19, 2013 – Wellness and prevention have long been key components of the Wishard-Eskenazi Health model of care – from the large primary care network and its numerous community-based health fairs and partnership with the Marion County Public Health Department to the Wishard-Eskenazi Health Farmers’ Market and Slow Food Garden at White River State Park and its support for the Indy Winter Farmers Market and community-supported agriculture programs. As Wishard-Eskenazi Health transitions to the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health, it plans to expand on these initiatives with new programs and civic investments that advance its commitment to community health and wellness.

“When individuals are seriously ill or critically injured, we know what to do. However, we know that our best opportunity to improve the lives of our patients and, by extension, the health and vitality of our community lies in helping individuals stay well. We have long recognized the importance of healthful food and a healthy community,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and medical director of Wishard-Eskenazi Health. “That’s why we are expanding our commitment to broaden Wishard-Eskenazi Health’s role and positively affect even more lives by encouraging a healthy way of life.”

A new and unique partnership with Growing Places Indy will help Eskenazi Health extend the reach and impact of its wellness programs, in addition to other community-wide efforts that aim to improve the way Indianapolis lives and eats.

As part of the new partnership, Growing Places Indy will operate the one-of-a-kind sky farm at the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus. The Eskenazi Health Sky Farm will be open to patients, staff and the community as a space to engage with food and learn how it grows, how to prepare fresh produce and why it’s important to health. Items grown at the Sky Farm will also be made available to patients, visitors and staff in various ways at the new campus, opening on Dec. 9. The 5,000-square-foot rooftop garden will sit on the top of the Outpatient Care Center on the Eskenazi Health campus.

The partnership with Growing Places Indy started two years ago with the Wishard Slow Food Garden at White River State Park, which supports education and engagement in urban gardening, whole food lifestyles and healthful living. 

Wishard-Eskenazi Health also supported healthful diet and lifestyle choices through establishing the Eat Well Initiative at the Indy Winter Farmers Market, a voucher program to increase access to healthful foods for our community’s underserved.

“We believe the wellness of our community depends on both access and fun, first-hand experience in growing and preparing fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables,” said Laura Henderson of Growing Places Indy. “We are ecstatic to be able to expand our partnership with Wishard-Eskenazi Health to reach more individuals and families in our community with our mission of empowering them to grow well, eat well, live well and be well.”

Wishard-Eskenazi Health has also formed new partnerships with Fall Creek Gardens, Living Well Community Garden in partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and the Center for Wellness for Urban Women (CWUW) to create an outreach effort to teach organic gardening methods to those living in Central Indiana. In addition, these partnerships build community involvement in health and wellness.

"It is so vital for urban communities to learn more about not only nutrition but also how to take part in growing their own foods, to evaluate accessibility to healthy foods in their own neighborhoods, and to advocate for better food choices,” said Rhonda L. Bayless, executive director and founder of CWUW. “In sustaining our mission to empower women and families to take a preventive and proactive approach to their health, our partnership with Wishard-Eskenazi Health will assist us in providing a safe space for our participants to learn about gardening, nutrition and wellness.” 

Other Wishard-Eskenazi Health programs also continue to emphasize community health and wellness. Wishard-Eskenazi Health’s Healthy Me program, a free healthy lifestyle program available to all Wishard-Eskenazi Health patients, has introduced gardening to its participants through the construction and planting of raised garden beds at several Eskenazi Health Center locations. The gardening program, graciously supported by St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Inc., Dr. Sara Schwen and family, and Purdue Extension-Marion County, supports several community garden projects that have already demonstrated substantial community development in their respective neighborhoods. These gardens assist health coaches in educating patients about fresh vegetables and how to grow them safely and affordably, inspiring and engaging patients with a new healthy hobby and ultimately providing them with fresh vegetables.

Plans also call for the new Eskenazi Health primary care location at West 38th Street, opening in late October, to feature numerous components supporting sustainability and community health, including a large rain garden and walking track feature.