Motivation, creativity and just plain fun all important ingredients in Dearborn County Hospital’s employee health programs
There are 1,250 miles between Lawrenceburg, Ind., and Key West, Fla. It would take approximately 52 eight-hour days, or 416 hours at 3 mph, to walk that distance.
A number of employees of Dearborn County Hospital took the time to “walk” those many miles earlier this year. No, they did not literally hike to Florida’s southernmost point, they just counted the hours they spent walking and/or exercising as part of the hospital’s WOW Key West Challenge for employees. For example, ten minutes of tennis or jogging would equal one mile.
Working on Wellness (WOW) is a health/exercise, diet/weight management and employee morale/mental health program that DCH has offered since 2013. In the past 18 months, there have been long-term and one-day competitions, ongoing programs and special employee recognitions.
Challenges and motivational topics originate with the DCH Wellness Advisory Committee which is comprised of hospital personnel from various departments and areas. Committee Chairperson Jackie Ohlmansiek, Human Resources Benefits Specialist, is joined by Melissa Bischoff, Registered Dietitian; Ed Brush, Physical Therapy Director; Kevin Burns, Pharmacy Director; Camille Eiler, DCH Physician Partners Practice Administrator; Sandy Hoff, Administrative Director-Laboratory; Caryn Hornberger, Marketing Director; Dave Kemper, Senior Accountant; Dr. Nancy Kennedy, Internist; Tish Owens, Fiscal Services Director; Patty Richards, Nutrition Services Director and Registered Dietitian; and Claudia Richardt, Vice President of Human Resources, Marketing & Community Relations.
“Working on Wellness at the hospital has helped employees make lifestyle changes that have improved their health and lessened their stress load,” Mrs. Bischoff stated. “I have really enjoyed seeing the employees succeed with their weight loss goals.”
To date, the Key West Challenge, which ended in June, was the most extensive contest the DCH Wellness Advisory Committee organized.
Numerous teams of four employees kept track of how many miles they walked or how many minutes they exercised over a three-month period.
Teams came up with unique or funny names. The winning team, calling themselves the Sugar Shakers, was from DCH Nutrition Services and consisted of Melissa Charlton, Chef; Katie Corbett, Cook; Jennifer Hartman, Dietetic Technician; and Charlene “Char” Stroop, Food Service Assistant. Each of the four received a canvas shopping bag containing a colorful beach towel. Ms. Charlton also won a Fitbit Flex wristband monitor in a random drawing.
Various additional competitions were initiated last year. The first was the DCH Stairwell for Health, which ran from April through July 2013. Participants kept track of how many steps they climbed both at work and elsewhere.
Biggest Loser #1 in August 2013 was DCH’s first major contest. It was won by Scott Johnson, Patient Transporter, who lost 56 pounds. He was presented a Google 10-inch Android Tablet donated by the Phillips Supply Company of Cincinnati. Other competitions and their winners are:
*The Big Apple Challenge/The Golden Girls—Jennifer Hartman, Kathy Mattingly and Mary Wilson—received “I Love NY” tote bags and coffee mugs, some smaller items and a free year of use of the DCH Fitness Center.
*The Holiday Challenge-Avoid the Holiday Hangover/Caryn Hornberger and Heather Powell each were given Scentsy warmers.
*The Biggest Loser #2/Vicky Keller won a Fitbit Flex wristband monitor.
*Hula Hoop contest/A trophy was presented to winner Nathan Deaton.
At the same time, there are ongoing programs which are open to all employees. Some are for calorie counting and/or exercise while others are for motivation and inspiration. These ongoing programs are:
*“DCH Has Heart” articles in DCH Highlights, the hospital’s monthly newsletter, about employees who receive special recognition from their patients or co-workers;
*Inspiration Tree in the DCH Chapel.
*Keep it Simple/KIS weight loss, based upon the USDA’s new My Plate guidelines.
*Mix It Up Mondays exercise, which includes yoga and Zumba.
*10 to Go weight loss.
Word games and trivia questions about the year’s topics of discussion.
“The Wellness Advisory Committee added another endeavor in 2014 by increasing awareness and education of a specific disease,” Mrs. Bischoff explained. “We chose 2014 to be ‘Diabetes Awareness Year’ and created a separate committee. Mr. Brush, Dr. Kennedy, Mrs. Ohlmansiek and Mrs. Richards and I have been joined by hospital staff Jennifer Beer, Diabetes Nurse Educator and Clinical Instructor and Certified Diabetes Educator; Shawn Crandell, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator; Laura Pruitt, Physical Therapist Assistant; and Paula Rossell, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. One of the ways we educate staff is through Q&As or riddles posted on the hospital’s daily Intranet newsletter, The DCH Buzz. Anyone who knows the correct answer can apply the winning points to the current health competition.”
So how much weight has been lost? Mrs. Bischoff estimates 624 pounds over the past 18 months by motivated, health conscious people at DCH.
“There are other reasons, not always mentioned, for having healthier employees. Better health means fewer chances for certain illnesses to develop, or requiring a shorter recovery time if one does become sick or injured,” Mrs. Bischoff concluded. “Plus, our employees can set good examples for the hospital’s patients and visitors. We always hope that DCH’s physicians and staff will demonstrate that good health is important to everyone both inside and outside of the hospital.”
DCH’s next challenge will be announced in the fall.