This past week, the Cleveland Clinic, which has been ranked No. 1 in heart care for 21 years according to annual ratings published by U.S. News and World Reports, decided not to renew its release with McDonald’s.
The fast food restaurant had been a prominent part of hospital’s food court for the past 20 years.
“We want to demonstrate that we can walk the talk by being a healthier organization,” said Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, Eileen Sheil. Sheil added that removing McDonald’s is part of a much broader wellness campaign at the hospital to “promote healthy food choices, exercise, and a smoke free environment.”
Clinic chief executive Toby Cosgrove, himself a cardiac surgeon, has been trying to get rid of the Golden Arches for more than a decade, but the chain asserted its right to continue operating in the Clinic’s food court under the terms of its lease.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), all but 17 U.S. hospitals have given McDonald’s the boot, no longer willing to promote the foods that cause many of the diseases that land patients in hospital beds in the first place.
The PCRM further notes that chronic diseases of lifestyle now account for seven out of every 10 U.S. deaths and about 75 percent of our $3 trillion health care budget. More than 70 percent of Americans struggle with overweight or obesity, which have been linked to both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are two of the country’s leading causes of hospitalization.
Some hospitals have taken a more proactive approach of embracing food as medicine. In Connecticut, New Milford Hospital is serving up salads filled with green leafy vegetables grown in an aeroponic tower on the hospital’s rooftop garden.
And Dr. Garth Davis, at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center in Houston, decided to start writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. Working in conjunction with Kristina Gabrielle Carrillo-Bucaram, founder and chief co-operator of Rawfully Organic, Dr. Davis opened “The Farmacy” in the hospital lobby. The stand is open every Wednesday from 10-2, and patients present prescriptions for a box of fresh, organic produce. A box costs $25, but if you have a prescription, $10 is refunded.