By Lynne Adkins
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Physicians at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children are helping their patients battle both illness and hunger.
When doctors at St. Chris, in North Philadelphia, realized that nearly 50 percent of their patients’ families worried about putting food on the table, they decided to help.
Dr. Hans Kersten, medical director of St. Christopher’s Grow Clinic, says families coming into the emergency room are now screened about their eating, and those in need are referred to local resources.
He says the extra screening effort makes sense because hunger affects health.
“It’s associated with anxiety in parents, which affects their ability to feed or care or do homework or do all kinds of things with their children,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “In children it’s associated with school problems, anxiety, depression, perhaps suicide related to that. So there’s a lot of health effects in being food-insecure,” he says.
Now, in the hospital’s main lobby, a local vendor sells fresh fruits and vegetables, and doctors write “prescriptions” which can be redeemed for discounted healthy foods at a local market.