The Culinary Medicine Program at Geisinger

Leadership and Faculty

 

Renee Winter- Bertsch, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES

Director | Culinary Medicine Program
Senior Director | Clinical Nutrition Services
Director | Dietetic Internship

Renee directs all administrative operations of the Culinary Medicine program. She introduced the idea of bringing the program to Geisinger and has been working to successfully integrate it ever since. As the senior director of Clinical Nutrition at Geisinger, she oversees clinical quality and direction of the department and the dietetic internship.

Additionally, Renee is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, and provides diabetes self-management training and medical nutrition therapy in an outpatient setting. Originally from New Berlin, New York, she received her BS from State University of New York at Oneonta and MS with route to registration from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

 

Stacy Coolbaugh, MBA, RDN, LDN

Associate Director | Culinary Medicine Program
Director | Outpatient Clinical Nutrition Services

Stacy directly manages all Culinary Medicine operational endeavors and strategic initiatives. She also oversees collaborative efforts towards program growth. Stacy is the director of Geisinger’s Outpatient Clinical Nutrition department, which includes clinic settings as well as special programs such as Culinary Medicine, Fresh Food Farmacy, and Geisinger 65 Forward.

She received her BS in Clinical Dietetics and MBA from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Originally from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, she has worked for Geisinger for nine years.

 

Jennifer Franceschelli Hosterman, DO, FAAP

Medical Director | Culinary Medicine Program
Director | Pediatric Weight Management Program
Associate Director | Nutrition and Weight Management- Western Region
Director | Nutrition and Weight Management Fellowship

Dr. Franceschelli Hosterman plays a key role in the implementation of professional class programming for Geisinger’s resident and fellow population. Additionally, she supports all academic and research-related endeavors for the program. Dr. Franceschelli Hosterman received her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before completing the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency and Nutrition and Weight Management fellowship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Her clinical interests and specialties include adult and pediatric malnutrition and comprehensive weight management. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American Board of Obesity Medicine, and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists. Originally from Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Dr. Franceschelli Hosterman has worked for Geisinger for ten years.

 

Emily Newhard, RDN, LDN

Program Administrator | Culinary Medicine Program
Clinical Dietitian | Nutrition Services

Emily instructs all Culinary Medicine classes at Geisinger. She conducts daily operations and provides administrative and organizational support for community and professional programming, research initiatives, and program growth and development. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Emily has extensive experience in the food and hospitality industries.

Emily completed her AA in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, North Carolina, and her BS in Culinary Nutrition and Food Science from Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado. She completed her dietetic internship through Geisinger before moving into her current role.


Culinary Medicine Programming

Medical Student Programming

Discussions are underway with the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine to launch Culinary Medicine as an elective course. This month-long clinical elective will be a collaboration with Geisinger’s Nutrition and Weight Management department. Students will split their time between Nutrition and Weight Management, where they will explore counseling, surgical, and medical interventions, and Culinary Medicine, where they will attend classes as students and ultimately facilitate community classes.

Medical Professional Programming

Professional classes are held at least weekly for residents and fellows at this time. Classes are not offered in a series format, rather, they are available for registration individually. This allows for ever-changing rotation schedules and allows the physicians to take classes which are relevant to their practice area.

Community Programming

(Pre-COVID, standard operations) Community classes are offered in a series of four (4) classes to any interested adult. This includes community members, patients, and employees. Classes are typically offered on consecutive weeks and may be held in the daytime or evening. Weekend classes typically offered monthly.

(Current/ COVID operations) Due to changes in operations related to COVID19, community classes are being offered to employees only at this time. Employees are required to complete a daily symptom-checker and report any COVID19 exposures prior to class. Class capacity is minimal with social distancing and masking strictly enforced. Classes have also been switched to a virtual format at points.


Successes

The Culinary Medicine program is approved as an activity which counts towards MyHealth Rewards, an incentive program to receive an insurance premium discount through the Geisinger Health Plan. MyHealth Rewards considers an individual’s health metrics and lifestyle choices, then provides resources to help them meet their goals. Other healthy activities which are part of the program include dental visits, weight counseling, gym and sport reimbursement, yoga classes, and more. Participants who complete a community series of four (4) or more Culinary Medicine classes receive a credit towards the premium discount.


Challenges

The main challenge to date has been securing a reliable and optimal kitchen. Geisinger does not yet have their own teaching kitchen facility, so have been reliant on a local college’s teaching kitchen and a small demo-style kitchen located on Geisinger’s main campus in Danville, Pennsylvania. The college has been an excellent partner; however, kitchen availability is limited. Geisinger’s demo kitchen can only hold a small number of participants as space and appliances are limited.

Other challenges have included attendance and recruitment. While many classes are full, there is unfortunately a high no-show and cancellation rate. Recruitment has been difficult as marketing efforts and resources have been limited. Additionally, no volunteers or support staff are involved in daily operations. This puts logistical limitations on the number of classes which can be offered.


Funding

Funding is provided through grants and charitable donations. Other revenue-generating options to create a more sustainable model are being considered.


Research and Publications

No research publications at this point in time.

Survey data is collected from participants, including learning objectives and outcomes and attitudes towards cooking and nutrition. Geisinger developed their own documentation and survey utilizing internal research resources, but also offer Health Meets Food’s program survey and questionnaire to contribute to the national data pool as able.


Media

Efforts to create an interactive social media page are underway, in order to engage past, current, and future participants.