|Weiss Memorial Hospital's weekly farmers' market draws support from local vendors, the community and staff.|
Chicago's Weiss Memorial Hospital is making a commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles — from its ground floor to the rooftop. The hospital's parking lot hosts a weekly farmer's market and the hospital's rooftop is home to a farm that's forging deeper roots in the community.
Terry Tuohy, director of medical education and volunteer services, approached the local alderman's office last year about hosting a market and, not only did officials approve, they volunteered two urban gardeners to help.
As reported in Health Facilities Management's sister publication, Hospitals & Health Networks, an all-volunteer force maintains 20 planter boxes and 15 raised beds situated throughout the top level of the garage. There's also an apiary, and produce and honey are sold at the market. Profits go back into this and other outreach programs.
"We've seen an uptick in schools and park district groups visiting the farm," Tuohy comments, and 15 new volunteers have joined this year, all drawn in by community buzz.
This type of brand-extending community program can be duplicated at nearly any hospital, according to CiCi Rojas, vice president, community engagement for Truman Medical Centers, Kansas City, Mo., which has a robust wellness and farmers' market program.
"Start by thinking beyond your four walls, and then identify the people in your organization who can be seen as leaders," says Rojas, who oversees an outreach program that has increased its number of community events by 200 percent in the last 18 months. "Inventory your resources, define your marketing goals and determine what services you can provide in off-site settings."