North York General Hospital recognized as a model healthy workplace

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North York General Hospital (NYGH) recently received the Ontario Hospital Association’s (OHA) 2005 Healthy Hospital Innovators Award at the OHA’s HealthAchieve 2005 conference. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to developing and sustaining a healthy workplace and acting as a role model of a healthy workplace for our community. North York General was one of nine hospital’s to receive the OHA’s award out of 150 hospitals in Ontario.

The strategy team at NYGH, led by Bonnie Adamson, President and CEO, has committed to developing a sustainable wellness strategy for its staff. The first powerful step to becoming a healthy workplace is staff caring for themselves and one another, according to Adamson, who initiated this transformation following the hospital’s SARS experience.

“We continually enhance our facilities to create a safer and more welcoming environment for patients and their families, but we also need to be a healthy workplace to provide the best quality and compassionate care possible. The core of a healthy organization is an employment relationship with staff which depends on trust, commitment, communication and decision-making influence,” says Adamson. “Our commitment to being a healthy workplace is becoming engrained in our vision and values, in comprehensive human resource management practices that fit with the strategic plan and our prevention and well-being strategies.”

In sixteen months many activities have engaged a wide variety of staff, physicians and volunteers in improving workplace health and safety at NYGH. In addition, the hospital is working with Health Systems Group, a workplace health promotion company, to provide a managed wellness program for staff, physicians and volunteers. Twenty-five existing occupational health and safety policies were reviewed and revised to reflect their culture change transformation. Ten new policies were developed covering four areas: accidents, injuries and illness, maintaining employee health and education, a hazardous materials program and safety measures and procedures. All these initiatives ensures NYGH fulfills their vision statement that, “a well designed workplace makes it easy to do the right things right.”

The hospital is reviewing staff benefit claims from 2001 to 2004 to determine what ill health is costing the hospital and what major health problems are causing these costs. All identifying individual information is confidential. With this information the hospital hopes to be able to identify and target the modifiable risk factors with preventative programs, forecast future benefit costs and the return on investment of wellness and health programming. This will help evaluate the effectiveness of the wellness programming.

Other initiatives include employing a full-time safety specialist and overhauling job profiles to capture the physical demands and cognitive requirements of a position. An action plan has also been identified to develop a motor vehicle safety program; ensure safety is incorporated into job descriptions; develop a safe client handling program; a slips and falls prevention program and a workplace violence prevention program.

“We believe the wellness program enhances staffs’ capacity to achieve and maintain balance in one’s personal health, as well as in their lives between work and family. As a healthy workplace we have a role to support wellness initiatives where they can be linked to our organizational outcomes and are in alignment with the hospital vision,” says Adamson.

North York General Hospital, including the IODE Children’s Centre, has been a compassionate, caring member of our community since 1968. As a community teaching Hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, we provide high quality patient care in an environment built on a foundation of safety.