Good health begins at home

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When it comes to promoting health and wellness, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) felt it had to look at itself before it could be a mentor to its community. And, it had to start at the top with the President and Chief Executive Officer. “I have personally struggled with my own weight for years and have to become healthier. We need to challenge and support each other in this initiative,” states David Musyj, President and CEO of WRH.

Windsor Regional Hospital challenged its 3000 full and part time staff by establishing a health and wellness program entitled, 10,000 Steps To 10,000 Pounds. The goal of the initiative is to bring awareness to the problem, introduce programs to help cure it, and inspire all employees to become healthier, exercise and lose weight. The goal is to have WRH staff lose more than 10,000 pounds (5 tonnes) of weight by the end of this calendar year.

The 10,000 Steps To 10,000 Pounds was inspired by Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City who called upon the citizens there to lose one million pounds in 2008. Oklahoma City is among the top ten of most obese cities in the United States.

Obesity rates in Canada have nearly doubled among adults and nearly tripled among children over the past 25 years. Serious health risks are associated with obesity including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Some of the causes include a diet of calorie-dense but nutrient-deficient food, public planning strategies that favor motorists over walkers and cyclists, and bad habits.

Staff immediately wanted detailed information to form appropriate plans on an individual basis. Inquiries focused on BMI (Body Mass Index) and weight assessment information.

BMI is a statistical measure of the weight of a person, scaled according to their height or a ratio of the person’s height to their weight. WRH posted a calculation process on its Intranet for staff to simply click and measure their personal BMI.

The program was developed to have ‘staff help staff’ in establishing and maintaining personal weight loss goals. The hospital assisted by providing experts in the field of health care such as physicians, nurses, dietitians, exercise trainers and/or psychologists.

These experts may offer services in lifestyle change, dietary training, exercise support and medical follow up. Other staff leaders assisted through their programs including the hospital’s Cardiac Wellness Centre, Food & Nutrition Dietitians and initiatives already established through WRH’s Healthy Lifestyle Program that offers weekly Yoga classes and Lunch Bunch Fitness.

Community partners such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Heart Health Action Windsor-Essex offered expertise and information to assist staff. Professional firms have been engaged such as the Weight Watchers Program that had been established at the hospital for several years and currently having record attendance to its weekly check-in for members. Local health clubs such as Goodlife Fitness have offered corporate discount rates to encourage staff participation. The hospital has offered shower facilities to staff, encouraging activity prior to and after shifts. Staff can also access the Intranet and are provided tools to monitor their own personal weekly weigh-in schedule using a Weight Tracker Form.

“The campaign came at a very opportune time for me as I was just setting my own personal goals to return to an active lifestyle. I had been restricted from running and participating in any team sports for over a year due to an injury and subsequent reconstructive knee surgery,” states Diane Hernandez, RN, Clinical Practice Manager in the Respiratory Care/Medical Day Care Unit. “With the launch of the 10,000 Steps To 10,000 Pounds program, I was able to find motivation and share my goals, with the ultimate hope that many participate with me and make a commitment to a lifetime change and embracing healthier choices.”

Windsor Regional Hospital believes health promotion must start within. A healthy staff will give exemplary care to patients resulting in happy patients appreciating positive, upbeat staff providing their health care. They believe they need to ‘walk the talk’ before they can advocate good health to their community. Windsor Regional Hospital’s 10,000 Steps To 10,000 Pounds is an initiative toward that goal.