Good Samaritan Hospital Recognized for Healthier Families Program
The Healthier Families Program began in 2012 when, in collaboration with the Bay Shore Community Alliance, it brought the Healthier Families Program to the Bay Shore School District. Open to students in grades 3-5, its goal is to educate and encourage students and their parents or guardians about the importance of healthy nutrition and daily physical activity.
Jill Bocchieri PT, Director of Rehabilitation Services and Roseann DeLuca, MSN, RN, Bariatric Coordinator said they worked closely with V.W. Caracci, MD, a member of the Community Outreach Program and former Director of Cardiology for Good Samaritan who was serving as the chairperson of the Bay Shore Wellness Alliance at the time to create a focus on a healthy lifestyle. With the input and knowledge of Cathy Davis, Registered Dietitian, Good Samaritan, Center for Pediatric Specialty Care, Bocchieri and DeLuca collaborated on a business plan to create a partnership with the district.
Classes, which are held at the Gene Schmidt Wellness Center at the Bay Shore Middle School, meet once a week on Mondays from 4 to 5 pm and focus on physical activity. The facility, which opened in 1998 and expanded in 2005, is a state-of-the-art fitness center using sophisticated exercise equipment, heart monitors and interactive computer programs. On Wednesdays, students participate in physical activity from 4 to 5 pm and from 5 to 6 pm, parents or guardians participate with the students in an interactive nutritional discussion.
Davis provides information for classroom discussion and education relating to eating healthy and an exercise plan. Two ancillary personnel assist Davis and a physical education teacher from the Bay Shore School District with the physical activity component of the program. Davis has learned to speak Spanish to ensure positive communication with all students and parents who attend the sessions.
While Bocchieri says the program is voluntary, there is a commitment required from the student and parent or guardian. The 10-12 week program stresses self-worth, confidence, and self-esteem rather than weight loss. “We stress the education piece so that the students and their families can benefit from what they have learned and apply their new knowledge to their everyday life,” says Bocchieri.
Results are evident. At least 50% of students demonstrated relevant improvement in height/weight Body Mass Index at the end of the 10-week session, 90% of students and parents demonstrated a greater knowledge and awareness of a healthy lifestyle, and 80% of the student participants achieved a set goal of 500 minutes of exercise by the end of the session.
With ongoing support from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, the Healthier Families Program continued to be a success with 18-20 students per class.
HANYS’ Community Health Improvement Award was established in 1997 to recognize hospitals’ outstanding collaborative initiatives that target specific community health issues and achieve quantifiable results. This year’s nominees showcased a broad range of programs and partnerships that support New York State’s Prevention Agenda goal of making New York the healthiest state in the nation, according to HANYS.
Photo: Dennis J. Verzi, center, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, accepts the 2016 Community Health Improvement Award Honorable Mention on behalf of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. Presenting the award is Stephens Munday, right, Chairman, HANYS Board of Trustees and President and Chief Executive Officer, The University of Vermont Health Network-Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, and Sue Ellen Wagner, Vice President, Community Health, HANYS.