The George Washington University Heart & Vascular Institute has a mission to advance cardiac research, education and community service. The following community programs serve at-risk populations in Washington, DC.
Nutrition Education Programs
The GW Heart & Vascular Institute supports a registered dietician, Kelli Metzger, who provides free heart-healthy nutrition education session at community health clinics in Washington, DC.
In 2013, Metzger led nutrition workshops at Unity Health Clinic in Congress Heights providing diabetes-related nutrition education to 15 patients monthly. In 2014, the program moved to the Anacostia Unity Health Clinic providing nutrition workshops to about 15 patients per month. Since 2013, Metzger’s nutrition workshops have served more than 500 patients.
In 2016, the Institute partnered with AmeriHealth’s clinic at the Conway Health and Resource Center in Ward 8, to lead their Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program’s monthly nutrition workshops. This Center is the largest healthcare facility in Ward 8.
Alliance for Nutrition in Health and Disease
Dr. Gurusher Panjrath led a two-year pilot program, Alliance for Nutrition in Health and Disease, with Food & Friends, to improve the care of patients with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and co-morbidities such as heart failure and amputations. The program evaluated the effectiveness of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to reduce the need for hospitalization and urgent care visits, and improve blood sugar control and prevent further end-organ injury associated with poor metabolic control and co-morbidities. MNT is provided by Food & Friends in the form of fresh cooked meals or groceries delivered to the patient’s home three times a week at no cost to them. A registered dietician provided ongoing nutrition education to all participants.
Results of the pilot program, which enrolled patients from Wards 7 and 8, delivered approximately 116,000 diabetic-heart healthy meals to 101 diabetes clients and family members recruited from GW and United Medical Centers in DC. GW research staff completed 330 nutrition assessments. The project resulted a positive impact of Food & Friends’ nutrition services on clients’ health, including improved medication adherence and increased diabetes knowledge. Most importantly, they saw a significant change in their blood sugar level. Improving glucose control can cut the risk of kidney disease, cataracts, heart failure, amputation, peripheral vascular disease, and other ailments common among those living with poorly controlled diabetes.
As part of our commitment to nutrition education of women with heart disease, the Institute’s Women’s Heart Center has provided cooking demonstrations to at-risk female patients since 2012. A series of demonstrations led by nutritionists from Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom and nutritionists from the National Institutes of Health were held at the GW Medical Faculty Associates. Classes included information about general nutrition, energy balance, shopping smart at the grocery store, eating out and being healthy, and portion control. The nutritionists also provided cooking demonstrations and taste tests. The Institute has hosted cooking classes at CulinAerie in Washington, DC and L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD.