Chair Files

Catalyzing Change, Improving Population Health

By focusing on preventive care and health promotion, hospitals are catalyzing change in their communities. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle is one such example. The 36-bed hospital, part of Texas Health Resources, determined that a large number of its patients’ emergency room visits were for issues related to chronic diseases. The hospital focused on chronic disease management, including improving access to healthy foods and nutrition education. Half of the hospital’s patient population lives in rural areas without a nearby grocery store, so this was a significant issue. Texas Health Azle designed a coordinated system of food hubs to provide increased access to affordable fruits and vegetables for residents in the surrounding communities. Working with one of its established vendors, the hospital purchases locally grown fresh produce at a reduced rate and passes the savings along to consumers. Texas Health Azle established and staffed one food hub, and the community quickly joined in as partners. The Azle Lion’s Club, Azle Christian Church and other community groups have organized monthly food hubs to serve other parts of surrounding rural counties. Texas Health Azle supplies all the produce, and the community organizations handle distribution. The hospital also provides training to community volunteers and has recently launched three community gardens. Currently, seven food hubs are operating in the hospital’s service area. In 2014, food hubs sold approximately 5,000 bags of produce, which is approximately 100,000 pieces. Pre- and post-surveys show that participants increased their weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables by 20 percent. Due in large part to the hospital’s population health focus, there has been a 10 percent decrease in uncompensated charges in 2014.

For more information, contact Marsha Ingle, director, community health improvement, at

Hospital-based Strategies for Creating a Culture of Health, a recent Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence guide written in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, includes more strategies about how hospitals and health care systems can build a culture of health in their communities.



Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......