July 17, 2013
Food as Medicine: Prestigious medical publication affirms nourishment has beneficial results for the critically ill
Sue Daugherty is used to grateful thank you notes that trumpet the benefits of nutrition and nourishment.
As Executive Director of MANNA, (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), she heads up a local charity that has been providing life-saving nourishment to the critically ill since 1990. MANNA prepares, cooks and delivers over 70,000 meals monthly and just recently celebrated the delivery of its 10 millionth meal. Meal plans have 11 different diet modifications created for such serious illnesses as cancer, renal and cardiac disease, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
Though evidence suggested that neglecting the importance of adequate nutrition in chronically ill patients had far-reaching implications on their health (as well as health care costs), solid research was lacking. So MANNA conducted a study exploring health care expenditures in MANNA clients over time compared to a control group of patients without MANNA services. Health care costs were examined before and after clients began receiving services. The study found that the mean monthly health care costs decreased for three consecutive months after initiation of MANNA services. Other health care cost–related factors, such as inpatient costs, length of stay, and number of hospital admissions also displayed a downward trend.
When the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health reviewed the research and found it worthy enough for publication, Daugherty had the satisfaction of adding the weight of this prestigious publication to the organization’s long heralded benefits. Research printed in The Journal of Primary Care and Community Health will show, among other things:
- Average monthly health care costs of MANNA clients fell 62% for three consecutive months after beginning service – a drop of almost $30,000.
- For HIV/AIDS patients, costs fell over 80% in the first three months.
- Even when MANNA clients’ needed hospitalization, their improved nutritional status resulted in reducing the average number of monthly visits to half that of the comparison group and their length of stay for inpatient visits was 37% shorter.
- Monthly inpatient hospital costs of clients were 30% lower over the six months following initiation of services as compared to the six months prior to starting MANNA.
- The costs of inpatient hospitalizations of MANNA clients were 40% lower. On average, the MCO paid out $12,000 less per month for MANNA clients.
- MANNA clients were over 20% more likely to be released from the hospital to home rather than to long-term care or health care facility.
- MANNA clients living with HIV/AIDS cost the MCO (Managed Care Organization) an average of $20,000 less per month.
For MANNA, the publication provided long sought after credentials for their work that could convince providers there was a less expensive and more effective way to reduce healthcare expenditures.
“With national healthcare looming just months away, hospitals and other healthcare organizations can breathe a little easier knowing that MANNA is a reliable partner to help them reduce costs and keep people healthier,” says Daugherty. The nourishment provided “is life affirming” she continued, “and keeps people in their homes longer, enhancing quality of life as well as extending it.”
Walking through MANNA’s busy kitchen where a full culinary staff and 1500 volunteers monthly chop and dice busily, Daugherty says, “The publication of our study in the Journal of Primary Care just affirms what we always knew – there’s a miracle brewing on 23rd Street in Philadelphia. And that miracle is MANNA.”
Read our study in the Journal of Primary Care by clicking here.