AAMC & Abbeville County EMS Plant Community Paramedic Program Garden

6/24/2016

Abbeville Area Medical Center (AAMC) and Abbeville County Emergency Services (ACEMS) have teamed up to help patients enrolled in the Community Paramedic Program live healthier lives.  Members from both organizations joined together to plant a vegetable garden on the AAMC campus. 
“The concept for the garden was developed after we reviewed the Community Health Needs Assessment that was completed by AAMC last summer,” stated Will Blackwell, ACEMS Director.  “One area of concern was limited access to healthy foods by low income individuals.”
ACEMS worked with AAMC to develop a plan to get the garden started.  The land was donated by the hospital and everything else including the vegetable seeds, equipment, tilling and ongoing maintenance have either been donated or are being performed by staff members of the organizations.
“Our main goal is to provide fresh vegetables to the patients at the UCMAC Free Medical Clinic,” stated Heather Martin, BSN, RN, AAMC’s Liaison for the ACEMS-Community Paramedic Program.  “But the garden also promotes teamwork between AAMC and ACEMS to reach a common goal – healthier lifestyles for our patients.”
Work on the approximately ½ acre garden began in March, with cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, butter beans, pumpkin, watermelon and okra being planted.  Volunteers pick the garden two times a week.  To date, more than 30 bags and boxes of vegetables have been distributed to the United Christian Ministries of Abbeville County (UCMAC) Free Clinic for distribution to its patients, many of which are also enrolled in the Community Paramedic Program.  The garden will continue to produce throughout the summer and into the fall.  It is hoped that the garden can be expanded in the future.
“What a blessing the Community Garden has turned out to be!  We encourage our patients to eat healthy, and now they have the opportunity to receive a variety of fresh vegetables which is definitely beneficial,” stated Connie Normand, Director of the UCMAC Free Medical Clinic.  “God is good, and He has blessed us with this bountiful garden provided by the Abbeville Community Paramedic Program and AAMC.  UCMAC and our patients are truly grateful!”
“I am extremely proud of everyone for all of the hard work they have put in to this project,” stated Blackwell.  “Helping to fulfill this need in our community has been a wonderful experience.”

 CAPTION:  (left to right)  Howard “Dean” Turner, AAMC CEO, Mary Margaret Jackson, AAMC Chief Quality/Risk Officer and Garden Project Facilitator, Will Blackwell, ACEMS Director, Connie Normand, Director of the UCMAC Free Medical Clinic, Keith Scott, MD, Community Paramedic Program Medical Director and Heather Martin, BSN, RN, AAMC Liaison-ACEMS Community Paramedic Program pose in front of the newly established Community Paramedic Program garden.  The vegetables grown are distributed to patients through the UCMAC Free Medical Clinic.

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