Last week, Lone Star Family Health Center (LSFHC) hosted representatives from the United States Forest Service, USDA, SEHTA, Texas A&M Forest Service and Corazón Latino to discuss an important emerging topic in medicine- the connection of nature-based activities and healthcare.
After three years of planning, LSFHC officially opened its Nature Explore® Classroom in April of 2016 and launched an ongoing effort to begin showing patients the vital connection between time spent in nature and their health. Fueled by a strong partnership with the Texas A&M Forest Service, Nature Explore® and USDA, this effort has continued to build through the guidance of LSFHC Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Porter.
When the Classroom opened in 2016, Porter noted to those in attendance that the staff at LSFHC works daily to care for the whole patient, including their social, physical, and mental health needs. That commitment to patient care has led Porter and his staff to continue to take steps to encourage patients to spend time outdoors, in nature, and increase physical activity- including writing ‘prescriptions’ for patients to spend time outdoors and starting a local chapter of the national Walk With a Doc program.
Part of last week’s event was a presentation about the effectiveness of the LSFHC Nature Explore® Classroom and the prescriptions for time spend in nature initiative. But the presentation and discussion also focused on the efforts of the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Woodsy Owl Conservation Corp and its goal of engaging Millennials in nature conservation, efforts of Promotores Verdes to grow family-based advocates for better health through nature experiences and Park Rx America, an organization working to reduce effects of chronic disease and increase overall wellbeing by connecting people to nature through parks.
All of these entities joined in the discussion about how their programs are raising the awareness level in communities about the need to get families outdoors, the successes and struggles each faces, and how they can join forces to begin to change the way people see how nature affects their health.
LSFHC feels that the Texas A&M Forest Service, USDA, Nature Explore®, Corazon Latino, SEHTA and other similar organizations are as vital to the health of their patients as its four clinics are. And as LSFHC continues to take steps to encourage good health outside of its clinic walls, it will lean more and more on its partners for guidance, encouragement and expertise.
LSFHC hopes to lead other healthcare groups toward efforts to encourage their patients to spend time in nature- watch for more initiatives coming from the clinic and contact Dr. Daniel Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about how to utilize the Nature Explore® Classroom, participate with Walk With a Doc or join forces to encourage the link between nature and health.