Indianapolis, IN

Eskenazi Health Wellness Champions

In January 2015, we began a comprehensive training program in self-care, stress-reduction, mind-body medicine, nutrition, exercise, and group support for 200 committed Eskenazi Health System employees, or “Wellness Champions.” The program combines our signature Mind-Body Medicine and Food As Medicine curricula. An integral part of this curricula included working with Lisa Harris, MD, CEO of Eskenazi Health, and the Eskenazi Health Food & Nutrition Services team to make healthful, delicious food an essential part of everyday life for all staff and patients.

We trained 350 clinicians and staff at Indianapolis’s Eskenazi Health, one of the U.S.’s five largest safety-net systems. They, in turn, shared our model of self-care and group support to the 4,500 EH employees, as well as the more than 100,000 mostly aging and low-income people whom EH serves. Our program increased EH staff participation in health-promoting lifestyles, as well as perceived stress and secondary traumatic stress. EH employee healthcare costs, which were increasing by 5% a year, were, after two years of our partnership, only increasing by 1% a year. In its comprehensive partnership, we led EH to completely revamp its food services to provide locally grown, high quality, healthy, affordable food to all patients, staff, and visitors. High levels of patient and staff satisfaction followed, and EH had a 400% increase in revenue from EH’s cafeterias and cafes.

As the partnership unfolded, Dr. Harris integrated our model throughout Indianapolis’s community mental health system, where use of the model with depressed inner-city teenagers demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in depression, suicidal ideation, and rumination as well as a significant increase in self-efficacy and mindfulness. We co-created “Food as Medicine for Everyone,” and are currently bringing the program to the entire city of Indianapolis, training key personnel in public schools and police and corrections departments, as well as clergy and leaders from community-based organizations.

The health system, which has nearly one million outpatient visits each year, remains committed to actively encouraging patient participation and collaboration.

Funding generously provided by: