Hospital clinic focuses on workplace wellness

A new kind of clinic got off the ground this past year at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, one where you actually step out of your working day, pull on some runners and head out the door.

Early in the year, in the frosty days of January, an inaugural learn-to-run clinic hit the pavement outside our doors, spearheaded by Lynn Guindon, team leader for the Augmentative Communication Service in the hospital’s Child Development Centre and an enthusiastic member of the Workplace Wellness Committee at Hotel Dieu.

The work of that committee dovetails with a strategic direction for Hotel Dieu—Enabling and Developing Our People—which includes supporting access to programs and projects geared to helping hospital staff take ownership for their physical, mental and spiritual well being.

The Workplace Wellness Committee is strongly supported by Hotel Dieu’s Occupational Health Department, which makes staff wellness a top priority.  That translates into everything from a Fitness Centre, yoga classes and theft-proof bike lockers to staff-run weight loss groups, mandala workshops and motivational speakers.

That emphasis on wellness and work-life balance also found expression in the fledgling running clinic.  Over lunch hours from the chilly days of winter and into the spring, Lynn coached and encouraged a group of first-time runners, clocking run/walks carefully, mapping out scenic routes and making sure everyone was properly dressed and hydrated.

“I never saw myself as runner,” admits Pauline Baker, a newbie to running and a member of the hospital’s Purchasing Department, “but I wanted to get into shape, so I gave it a shot.”

Not only did Pauline and her colleagues hit their stride in the twice-weekly lunchtime runs, they targeted—and achieved—a 5-km fundraising run for the Child Development Centre in March.  Reaching that goal was a big payoff, says Pauline, as were other sweet benefits—weight loss, better muscle tone, more energy and a chance to hook up with staff from other areas of the hospital.

Building on its track record, the learn-to-run group morphed into a 5-km running clinic this past summer.  After a break for holidays (and heat!), the members returned to twice weekly runs in mid-September, setting their sights on another fundraising event in March 2012.

For her leadership, Lynn was awarded a 2011 Hotel Dieu Mission Award, which recognizes outstanding staff achievements that support the goals and values of Hotel Dieu Hospital.  Lynn’s case was literally an example of someone going the extra mile to encourage wellness.

“It’s a great running group,” says Lynn.  “All the members are easygoing, fun and constantly surprising themselves with their accomplishments!”