NatureRx, the nature prescription – A community health wellness program –

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Rutland – Let’s talk about the beautiful parks and trails and the abundance of nature-related activities in Rutland and surrounding counties. Then, let’s talk about how outdoor activity can be a prescription for your health. Put them together and you get a movement called NatureRx. Community Health has partnered with Come Alive Outside (CAO) for two 12-week NatureRx programs designed to help people develop healthy lifestyles by being active and spending more time outside.
“Individuals or families will have access to a health coach once a week,” said Andrea Wicher, Community Health’s director of population health and quality. “NatureRx participants will keep a journal of their activity and their provider will document basic health data like blood pressure and weight and maintain a progress report.”
The Community Health program is designed to work with cohorts of 50 patients twice a year, aiming to reach 100 patients with this preventative wellness program.
Here’s how it works. Doctors and health care providers initiate conversations with patients about the health benefits of spending time in nature. The NatureRx referral suggests activities such as working in a garden twice a week, or taking a short walk three times a week. These activities increase the amount of time a patient spends outside and increases their level of physical activity. The CAO NatureRx coordinator will support participants after they get an outdoor referral from their health care provider. During the 12-week program, each participant receives one-on-one weekly health coaching, as well as tools for setting and tracking their goals. Participants will check in with their Community Health provider to look at how the program is impacting their health and wellness.
“We are thrilled that Community Health is sponsoring and having such a hands-on partnership with the NatureRx program,” said Come Alive Outside Program Director Myra Peffer. “Having Community Health’s providers capture pre- and post-health data on program participants will show the health benefits of this program in a way we never have been able to measure before. We hope this program becomes a model across Vermont.”
Several ParkRx/NatureRx programs exist around the US, Peffer said. Working with UVM, Come Alive Outside recently rolled out an updated NatureRx model incorporating other best practice programs from across the country. For more information on ParkRx/NatureRx programs visit
Community Health is Vermont’s largest FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham; Community Kids Dental is in Rutland; Community Health Pediatrics is in Rutland and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care, open 7 days a week, is located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers.
Community Health Express Care in Rutland and Castleton will be open on New Year’s Day. Check our website for our locations and hours.
All Community Health locations are accepting patients. For more information about career opportunities, hours and Community Health locations check our website.
The mission of Community Health (Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region) is to be the foremost integrated community health center providing quality and collaborative care that is accessible to all people, so that they can live their best lives and build strong communities.
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