Jessie Ball duPont Fund Helps UF Health Focus on Nutrition With Patients

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Each year, about 10,000 low-income Jacksonville residents receive their health care through UF Health at Jacksonville’s Total Care Clinic. As a group, they struggle with a host of acute and chronic health issues and more than half have conditions that would benefit from improved patient nutrition and weight loss.

With $108,423 in funding from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Total Care Clinic will add a full-time nutritionist to its staff, providing individual and group visits and counseling to help patients manage diabetes, hypertension and other diseases related to poor health and/or obesity.

The grant supporting UF Health at Jacksonville was approved by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund trustees at their third quarter meeting. It was among 20 grants, valued at $1.9 million, made by the trustees, and one of eight grants awarded to Florida-based organizations.

The Total Care Clinic, which opened in 2012, provides comprehensive, unified and patient-centered care to low-income, uninsured individuals who receive their care through what is known as the “Jacksonville City Contract” program. (The City of Jacksonville provides some funding to assist in covering the cost of care.) These individuals, Duval County residents ages 18-64, are not poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid, not old enough to be eligible for Medicare and not pregnant. Three out of four live in a household where income is below 133% of the federal poverty level ($31,322 for a family of four).

Poor nutrition is known to be associated with seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, cancer and stroke, as well as numerous chronic conditions, such as pulmonary disease, arteriosclerosis and kidney disease.

As part of a patient-centered approach, addressing nutrition and diet in a primary-care setting is a cost-effective way to address some of the underlying conditions that contribute to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. By addressing these underlying factors, the Clinic will be able to improve the health status of patients and reduce costs in treating these diseases.