Flavor Harvest program helps keep former hospital patients eating healthy

Reporter: Andrew Scheinthal
Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Could keeping you out of the hospital be as simple as changing what you eat?

A new program in Southwest Florida called Flavor Harvest is offering healthy meals to people who were recently discharged.

“I consider myself an amateur gourmet chef. I do 100 percent of the cooking in the house,” said Michael Hornbeck, who adds that food is something he’s always taken seriously.

But when Hornbeck was injured late last year, walking around the kitchen wasn’t an option.

“It’s painful to stand up for any length of time,” said Hornbeck.

That’s where Flavor Harvest came in, a meal program put together by Lee Memorial Health System for qualifying patients.

“It helps them stabilize their recovery, it takes the worry off their shoulders,” said Larry Altier, director of food and nutrition for the Lee Memorial Health System.

Altier came up with the idea after a patient wasn’t able to prepare their own meals. He says some people resort to unhealthy options when they leave the hospital because it’s the easy thing to do.

Hornbeck agrees, saying he often went to “probably Arby’s or Taco Bell.”

Altier says diets like that can slow down recovery and send people back to the emergency room, while healthy foods can also keep people out of the hospital.

“Patients who participated in the program, were 36 percent less likely to be re-admitted into the hospital than those who did not,” said Altier.

“The food program that they had was absolutely tremendous to me. Four minutes in the microwave and we had a full meal,” said

Cape Coral Hospital is currently the only hospital working with the program, but Lee Memorial Health System administrators are hoping to expand the program to other hospitals in the area.

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