Notes from the Road: Providence Hospitals

Tobacco Free Campus Sign-Providence Downtown and Northeast
Healthy Lunch Item-Providence Downtown
Healthy Vending-Providence Downtown
All Heathy Vending-Providence Northeast
Nutrition Sign-Providence Northeast
Prompt at Elevator to Use Stairs-Providence Downtown
Physical Activity Station-Providence Northeast

Providence Hospitals are part of the Sisters of Charity Health System and have two main campuses in the Columbia area, Downtown and Northeast. Under the leadership of Carmen Wilson, it doesn’t take long to realize wellness is interwoven into all aspects of Providence Hospitals. Happenstance conversations with members of the marketing team and stories of facilities planning meetings reveal that even when direct employees of the wellness department are not present, the best interest is represented and considered when organizational decisions are being made.

Providence Hospitals’ wellness program is tiered and rolled out progressively over three years. The first year focuses on participation with a generous incentive of one day of PTO (paid time off) when all program elements are met. Requirements include completion of an HRA (health risk assessment), blood screening and education classes as identified necessary from health status category.  Each employee is also given a personal consultation with the Health and Wellness department, placing employees in one of three chronic issue categories or General Wellness. The second year moves more toward health status outcomes, placing the ownership of active involvement in health management on the employees with ample support and resources through the wellness program. Again, an HRA is a required element to earn the incentive, along with set management and improvement paths for Diabetes, Hypertension, Weight Management, and General Wellness. The third year of the rollout includes continuation of engagement in health status outcomes and proof of participation in a generally healthy lifestyle by earning points for a variety of education opportunities, clinical preventive screenings, community events, consistent fitness center usage, health and wellness challenges, etc. throughout the year. The culmination of this comprehensive rollout earns successful participants a significant reduction of insurance premiums. Subsequent years will maintain the third year elements. New employee orientation and annual benefit enrollment materials are used to communicate and reinforce the importance of the program.

Providence Hospitals are 100% tobacco free campuses and a detailed policy clearly identifies expectations of employees along with empowering employees to be ambassadors of the tobacco free initiative to patients, visitors, and fellow employees. Possible disciplinary action is also outlined up to and including termination for repeated offenses. Large signs define the campus property line and along with signs throughout campus communicate the policy very clearly. To encourage every employee and covered spouse lead a tobacco free life, current tobacco users are identified by an attestation during benefit enrollment. Tobacco free medical rates reward tobacco free employees by saving them money per pay period. Amount depends on insurance elections. Tobacco using employees are reminded of resources to assist cessation and incentive to do so during annual employee health check, benefit enrollment, and at wellness events. Potential hires are notified of the robust policy with encouragement to lead a tobacco free life during the pre-employment process.

The Dietary Services at Providence Hospitals are an active partner in providing an ever increasing healthy food environment. During the summer growing season, the cafeteria displays a produce stand for employees to purchase fresh local produce. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) service is also available to employees. The chefs are constantly educating dietary staff on healthy cooking and serving practices. Food service staff even prompts employees to order egg whites, wheat bread, and to go light on the cheese. Only healthy lunches, meeting nutrition criteria, are offered at lunch and learns and even their pizza is all made on whole wheat crust. A lecture series takes place on both campuses to educate on healthy nutrition practices and cooking demos at the Downtown campus add to their interactive education opportunities. A free 10-week weight management program is offered and earns employees points toward their annual incentive as well as the option of participating in Weight Watchers for points. For those who prefer one on one help, Nutrition Counseling with a registered dietitian is also offered. An entire “Here’s to Your Health” vending area including healthy food, fresh food vending, and all water and zero sugar beverages are on prominent display along with educational TV monitors at the Downtown campus. Other vending offers a list of “smart snacks” to help consumers make more healthful choices.

Both Providence Hospitals have several opportunities and access points for physical activity. Physical activity is tied into wellness challenges and programs and participation in community events are encouraged. YMCA memberships at discounted rates can be payroll deducted, Northeast has a fitness trail on campus, and stair use is strongly encouraged with permanent point of decision prompts at elevators. In fact, the point of decision prompts are a great example of wellness being intertwined throughout Providence culture. The earlier prompts had to be removed due to renovations, but without the knowledge of the wellness department new, permanent signs were made and installed to match the renovated décor of the floors. A welcomed surprise to the wellness team!

Providence Hospitals are well on their way to achieving the highest standards for wellness culture. They are motivated and supported by a strong executive leadership, with goals of constant improvement. It won’t be long before Gold standards are met.
If you are an SCHA member hospital and are not yet committed to the Working Well initiative, contact Coordinator Kendyl Schultz to get access to all the resources, networking, and technical assistance we offer. If you are currently committed and engaged in Working Well, be sure to contact Manager, Jen Wright to set up your site visit. Site visits are an integral piece of the success hospitals have achieved in this initiative.

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