We use cookies to improve your experience on our site. Please accept the Privacy Policy to continue.

Press Releases

Lifestyle Medicine Program Begins Citywide Expansion, Starting with NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi

The program provides patients the tools to make healthy lifestyle changes, including access to plant-based diet resources and one-on-one counseling

Adults living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll

The program will be at five additional new NYC Health + Hospitals sites in the coming months

Sep 21, 2023

Ribbon cutting for opening of Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx.

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced that its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program has expanded to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx. This is the first of six new sites to make the program available citywide. The pilot program, launched at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in 2019 with the support of then-Borough President Eric Adams, has already seen hundreds of patients. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s team supports patients in making evidence-based lifestyle changes, including a healthful plant-based diet, increased physical activity, improved sleep habits, stress reduction, avoidance of substance use, and stronger social connections. Adults living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll. The program can accommodate 48 new patients each month, and the care team at each site includes physicians, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, a health coach, community health workers, a psychologist, a program coordinator, and an exercise trainer. Following the launch at Jacobi, the expansion will include NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull, Kings County, Lincoln, Elmhurst, and Gotham Health, Vanderbilt launching over the coming months. Current patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can get a referral to the program from their provider, and people who are not yet patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can see if they qualify to enroll in the program by contacting 347-507-3695.

“New York City is again leading the way with an even wider-reaching coordinated expansion of lifestyle medicine than ever before,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This is personal to me. A plant-based lifestyle helped save my life, and I’m thrilled that even more New Yorkers will have access to this critical programming right in their own neighborhoods. I applaud the work NYC Health + Hospitals is doing to deepen our administration’s commitment to equity of opportunity and addressing the disparities in health care from borough to borough. Our shared challenge is to stop feeding the health care crisis and ensure that all New Yorkers can live the healthy lifestyle they deserve, and lifestyle medicine is the prescription.”

“Healthy lifestyle habits have the power to help those living with diabetes, prediabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health concerns related to excess weight make significant strides toward reaching their health goals,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “But improving access and continuity of care is essential to lasting success. Thanks to NYC Health + Hospitals, we’re ensuring that patient-centered, team-based lifestyle medicine services reach even more New Yorkers at additional facilities in their communities while offering new training opportunities to staff. As we work together to address health and wellness disparities in our city and country, we applaud NYC Health + Hospitals’ efforts to empower more and more New Yorkers disproportionately impacted by chronic conditions to transition to the whole food, plant-based diet along with other healthful behavior changes that they deserve.”

“I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi,” said Michelle McMacken, MD, FACP, DipABLM, Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Healthy lifestyle behaviors are foundational to preventing and treating common chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s talented interdisciplinary team will provide patients with the guidance they need to adopt healthier habits, while also helping to address food insecurity and other key barriers to lifestyle change. Kudos to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi for offering this invaluable resource to patients and the community.”

Dr. Itha Harewood, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi and Dr. Michelle McMacken, FACP, DipABLM, Executive Director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals

“To successfully address our most common chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, a healthy lifestyle is essential. Expanding the Lifestyle Medicine Program to Jacobi will give our patients both knowledge and tools to improve their diet and lifestyle habits which are a foundation to living their healthiest lives,” said Christopher Mastromano, Chief Executive Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi | North Central Bronx.

“I am thrilled to be the physician lead to champion the lifestyle medicine program at Jacobi,” said Itha Harewood, MD, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. “We know that providing patients with guidance and support to achieve a healthier lifestyle will dramatically decrease long term chronic disease.  Our program will help our patients live their healthiest lives.” 

“I joined the new Lifestyle Medicine Program a month ago, and already I feel so much better,” said Skyler Myres, a patient at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. “I no longer have diabetes. My blood pressure is lower, and I no longer need to take one of my blood pressure medications. I have more energy. I feel it in the morning when I exercise – it’s easier to do things than it was before. I really enjoy the camaraderie of the team here, and they’re always there for me when I call with a question. I feel welcome here.”

The Lifestyle Medicine’s nine-month program provides every patient with the following resources:

  • 6 to 9 one-on-one counseling sessions. Patients will have 2-3 visits each with a physician or nurse practitioner, a dietitian, and a health coach to develop and implement a personalized care plan.
  • 14 weekly group classes. Topics include reading nutrition labels, grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, and sleep and stress management techniques.
  • 8 weekly exercise classes.Patients will work with an exercise trainer and take home a resistance band for strength training.
  • 6 free, monthly deliveries of seasonal fresh produce. Patients will work with dietitians to learn about incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet across culinary traditions and skill levels. Delicious and healthy recipes developed by the team’s dietitians accompany each produce box. (Launches early 2024)
  • Health Bucks. Patients will have access to Health Bucks, which are $2 coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at NYC farmers markets. Five of the seven program sites have farmers’ markets on their campus.
  • Culinary skills videos. Patients can learn cooking skills through short videos developed by the Lifestyle Medicine team in partnership with an online culinary school, Rouxbe. The videos will feature healthy cooking across various culinary traditions, including Caribbean, South American, Central American, and South Asian, and will be translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, and Haitian Creole. (Launches early 2024)
  • A plant-based cookbook. Cookbooks on plant-based eating for type 2 diabetes are available as well.
  • Support accessing benefits. Community health workers will help eligible patients access SNAP benefits and nutrition resources.

Each site will partner with local community-based organization(s) to explore ways to support community members in nutrition and other aspects of lifestyle change. The Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi will collaborate with Throggs Neck Community Alliance in the Bronx.

“Given the broad range of health challenges facing our local Bronx communities, Throggs Neck Community Alliance is excited to welcome the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi,” said Angela Torres, Executive Director of the Throggs Neck Community Alliance. “Our community is plagued with growing rates of diabetes, cancer, and other diseases that can be curbed with the implementation of foundational lifestyle approaches. This program provides supportive care, as well as the tools necessary to walk alongside Bronxites in a pathway towards optimal health. The establishment of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at Jacobi will offer transformational lifestyle changes for local Bronx residents in partnership with organizations like Throggs Neck Community Alliance, so that it is easily accessible and will lead towards change that leads to longer, healthier lives.” 

Once all of the sites are launched, the program will be able to accommodate nearly 4,000 patients per year. With support from the City of New York, NYC Health + Hospitals will commit $3 million this year and approximately $5 million annually in future years to fund staffing and programmatic services for the Lifestyle Medicine Programs.

Particular attention has been placed on ensuring that the curriculum is relevant for patients from diverse backgrounds and experiences. For example, the Spanish-language curriculum reflects cultural adaptations, not simply a translation of the English-language version. Moreover, individual visits with the medical providers, dietitian, and health coach allow for tailored behavior change recommendations based on each patient’s social, financial, cultural, and family context.

Formal evaluations of the Bellevue pilot program revealed a successful implementation process, extremely high demand for services (more than 850 patients requested to enroll in the first few months), and positive health outcomes including clinically and statistically significant improvements in weight, glycemic control, and diastolic blood pressure.


MEDIA CONTACT: 212-788-3339; PressOffice@nychhc.org

About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.