Local hospital implements new wellbeing initiative

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Last month, Sisters of Mercy Health System introduced a new health and well-being initiative called "Healthification." St. John's Hospital-Cassville has started integrating the four pillars, or aspects, of the program.

"As a healthcare facility we need to provide healthcare information to members of the community," said Doug Stroemel, St. John's Hospital west region president. "To do this effectively, we must learn to take care of ourselves and our co-workers first. We need to be health leaders."

The four pillars of Healthification include: eating for life; moving for life; breathing for life; and balance for life.

"Eating for life involves diet and nutrition," said Stroemel. "We have always offered healthy choices for our patients, but at times our cafeteria has not offered as many healthy choices for our co-workers."

Judy Carver, dietary department director, is working to place more nutritious food choices in the hospital cafeteria. She is also developing lunch and learn seminars and creating newsletters and brochures with nutrition value information to help educate co-workers.

"Moving for life is about walking, riding a bike and exercising on a regular basis," said Stroemel. "We encourage our co-workers to take a brisk walk on their breaks. We don't want them to sit behind their desks all day. We also encourage them to exercise three to five days a week at home."

The breathing for life pillar of the Healthification program is aimed at decreasing the number of hospital staff members who use tobacco products. Smoking cessation programs will be offered to co-workers who are interested in quitting.

"The healthcare industry is just like any other cross section of the community in that some of our co-workers continue to smoke," said Stroemel. "We will be encouraging those individuals to go through the program. We will have information and help available to help them quit."

Healthification will also recognize co-workers who do not currently use tobacco products and encourage those individuals not to start. Non-tobacco users also receive insurance premium discounts as incentives for not smoking.

"Balance for life will target stress, anxiety and depression," said Stroemel. "We will have a representative of St. John's in Springfield come down to offer education on that pillar."

In an effort to encourage co-workers to take advantage of the new Healthification program, Stroemel has accepted St. John's CEO health challenge.

"I am working with a wellness coach who is helping me go through the diet, nutrition and exercise aspects of the program," said Stroemel. "I will be sharing my goals, successes and failures with the staff. I believe in leading by example, and I hope this will encourage co-workers to do the same."

In addition to implementing the Healthification program, St. John's Hospital-Cassville hopes to establish the Mercy HealthTeacher program at area school districts.

"During our roundtable meetings last year we learned that community members want us to take a more active role in health education with local children," said Stroemel. "We are anxious to work and collaborate with the local school districts through this program."

Mercy HealthTeacher offers health education curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Educational topics include: alcohol and drugs; anatomy; environmental health; nutrition; physical activity; and tobacco.

On Feb. 9, Stroemel will be meeting with administrators and health educators from districts across the county. Stroemel will share information on Mercy HealthTeacher's on-line library and training and professional development opportunities.

"We want to work to bring the concept of health to the community as well as our co-workers," said Stroemel. "We want to give students information that will help them stay healthy long term."

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