Notes from the Road: Carolinas, Baptist Easley, Laurens, Beaufort, Spartanburg, and Village

Working Well has traveled many miles in the past few weeks (almost 2400 miles) experiencing firsthand the outstanding example SC hospitals are setting for their communities and each other in their quest for a Culture of Wellness. Carolinas Hospital System, Baptist Easley Hospital, Laurens County Healthcare System, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and Village Hospital all remind us of the leadership, wealth of resources, and collaboration that exist in our healthcare community right here in SC. Although similarities are seen throughout healthcare and common challenges and barriers may exist, each hospital brings a unique vibe to their employee wellness efforts. It’s a privilege to experience how hospitals throughout SC are incorporating the guidance and resources of Working Well to achieve their own customized goals.

Site visits are one of the many ways Working Well staff is readily available to assist SC hospitals achieve a Culture of Wellness. Get a glimpse at what Carolinas, Baptist Easley, Laurens, Beaufort, Spartanburg, and Village are doing.

Carolinas Hospital System rounded out the May site visits. Rona Ewart, Clinical Nutrition Manager hosted the visit. Carolinas is a prime example of extensive executive level support. Jim O’Loughlin, CEO, and Darcy Craven, COO, are key members of the wellness team that meet on a regular basis. They have their pulse on every aspect of employee wellness at their facility and lead by example through their evident commitment to personal fitness.

Employees at Carolinas are offered annual wellness screenings, tied to an incentive, that include labs and biometric measurements with 1-on-1 MD and/or RD counseling available. Referrals to Medical Nutrition Therapy, Smoking Cessation, or other Disease Management programs are also made at this time. They have been a tobacco free campus for 4 years and recently beefed up communication by adding an explanation at the information desk and on the mirrors of the restrooms. On the subject of communication, a quarterly newsletter is mailed to the home of every employee and a traveling information cart is in the planning stages…a successful tool learned from Greenville Hospital System.

Sodexo’s Wellness & You initiative is being used to implement healthy food environments. The opportunity for physical activity is offered through weekly aerobics classes and an onsite employee Fitness Center available 24/7 by badge access with a signed liability waiver and no membership fee. A prominently marked outdoor walking trail on the hospital grounds is mapped out on “Making Tracks at CHS” and available on a display stand just inside the main entrance, along with the City of Florence Parks and Trails map. Moving forward, Carolinas plans to recruit additional wellness team members, consider product placement in food environments to encourage healthy choices, and work on healthy food and physical activity policies.

Baptist Easley Hospital was the first stop in June. Kelly Price, Wellness Manager, started off the morning with a wellness team meeting including CEO, Roddey Gettys. The strong executive leadership, passion and commitment to the health of his employees were immediately apparent from Mr. Gettys. The wellness of Baptist Easley employees is being looked at from all aspects. Annual Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) and labs with appropriate Disease Management follow up is available for all employees and covered spouses at no charge. The HRA and labs are offered to all employees, regardless of benefit status. Along with education on nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco, stress management and financial wellness classes will also be offered because of their recognized effect on overall health and wellbeing. Healthy behaviors are rewarded by benefit premium reductions. Qualification for reduced benefit premiums require employees to complete the annual HRA, labs, sign a non-tobacco user attestation, and new in 2011 complete any Disease Management program that may be appropriate based on annual assessment results. Discounts on Rx meds are also available for compliance with the Disease Management program.

The hospital campus is tobacco free and although no one was visibly seen violating this policy, the cigarette butt receptacles scattered throughout the campus perimeter send a mixed message. The wellness team understands this and is working to remove the receptacles and provide guidance to their employees that will empower them to speak comfortably to policy violators through scripting.

Their self proclaimed food environment goal is to be Red Apple by the end of 2011 and with the things they have accomplished in such a short time already that is definitely a possibility. A healthy catering practice has recently been instituted and is managed by the enthusiastic and engaged Nutrition Department. A policy to support this is in the works and so far the practice has come with a very positive response from employees. Afternoon breaks now consist of yogurt parfaits and fruit instead of cookies. Award winning fried chicken Sundays now also have a grilled chicken option whose purchase is consistently rising.

A partnership with the YMCA has been formed to offer discounted memberships to employees, large community conference rooms are used for group exercise classes a couple times per week, an indoor walking trial has been mapped out by Plant Ops, a ¾ mile outdoor walking trial is also available but could benefit from signs to better identify it. Employees also have access to an onsite fitness facility through limited hour use of Cardiac Rehab. The stairwell location right next to the elevators forms a perfect opportunity for “point of decision” prompts that promote stair use. Moving forward Baptist Easley plans to look into healthy food environment and physical activity policies as well as pricing structure and product placement in their cafeteria and vending areas to encourage healthy choices.

Laurens County Healthcare System (LCHS) Executive Assistant to the CEO, Lindsay Roper hosted the next stop this month. The wellness team at Laurens has been hard at work since joining Working Well just a few months ago. One of the first things they accomplished is branding their employee wellness program with a new name and logo, “Work2Wellness”. The Healthy Times Newsletter is used to communicate Work2Wellness initiatives. The piece of their employee wellness program tied into benefits and incentives is managed by Peak Health out of NC. Participation in this program is not mandatory for employees, but it is the only way to qualify for reduced benefit premiums. Annual HRA and labs are provided to employees on the health plan along with 1-on-1 health coaching appointments with the Peak Health nurse. A follow up schedule and disease management protocol are determined by assessment results and are based on 5 benchmark levels. Employees must keep their follow up appointments and be compliant with their plans to avoid premium increase and payroll deduction for missed health coaching sessions.

LCHS has had a tobacco free policy since 2006. Just recently they have revised the tobacco policy language to create a Zero Tolerance Policy that includes immediate termination of employees caught using tobacco products on campus and thus in direct violation of the policy. This new policy revision and enforcement plan was communicated to all employees via a personal video message from CEO, Rich D’Alberto and remains on the hospital intranet CEO Update. LCHS also has assistance in place to help employees lead a tobacco free life. A smoking cessation program is available at no cost and discounted cessation meds are also available. The Public Relations department plans to help re-vitalize the scripting initiative to help employees approach policy violators confidently, comfortably, and armed with resources.

Currently the Wellness & You initiative through Sodexo is leading the drive in their food environment. The wellness combo is available daily in the cafeteria for the bargain price of $3.99 and there is a wellness combo frequency punch card that awards a free wellness combo for every so many purchased. A database with menu items and nutrition information is available on the employee intranet and also displayed with icons identifying healthy choices at the food stations. There is not currently any product placement or pricing strategy used to promote healthy choices in the cafeteria or vending but both are on the list of next steps for the wellness team. LCHS is fortunate to have Nutrition Director Darlene Briggs, formerly from a Red Apple hospital in NC, there to guide them on their way. The 2011 Hospital Week celebration cookout they hosted included turkey burgers and frozen yogurt which created very positive feedback from the employees!

LCHS offers a variety of opportunities for their employees to be physically active. They have an onsite fitness facility through the use of their Rehab Gym that is available 24/7. Up until the recent construction began there was an outdoor walking trail around the campus. The discounted memberships available through a partnership with the YMCA can be payroll deducted and a large rehab room in a clinical area may soon be used for group classes or dvd workouts. Visible on nearly every stairwell door is a “point of decision” prompt with an encouraging fitness message to increase stair use among employees. LCHS plans to reach both Gold Star and Red Apple status by the end of 2011. At this pace, they’re right on track.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s wellness team showed plenty of Lowcountry hospitality during their site visit in early June. Fueled by CEO Rick Toomey’s support and the active leadership of Physician Steven Kessel, who serves as a member of their wellness team, they are making great strides. Public Relations, LifeFit Wellness, Community Wellness, Human Resources, and Dietitians round out the comprehensive team. Beaufort Memorial ties healthy behaviors into their benefits by offering monetary incentives for meeting benchmark criteria in the program as well as health plan cost reductions. They use several methods of communication to educate their employees and inform them of upcoming events including newsletters and rolling messages throughout the hospital on TV monitors using the Care Channel. Annual HRA questionnaires are encouraged and screenings including labs and biometric measurements with 1-on-1 counseling are available through membership to the LifeFit Wellness Center.

Beaufort Memorial has a tobacco free campus policy and this language is expressed on the entrance signs, directional signs throughout campus, and near building entrances visible both entering and exiting the doors. To assist their employees with policy compliance and lead a tobacco free life, employees identified as smokers at an annual employee health assessment are offered Freedom from Smoking cessation classes at no charge. This class is also available at a discount to family members. Free certificates are available for the purchase of cessation aids like nicotine replacement therapy at local pharmacies through Human Resources.

A self proclaimed goal of Red Apple status by the end of 2011 is guiding their efforts in the food environment. They are currently going through the process of becoming a certified Wellness & You facility through Sodexo. This process requires staff training, consistent recipes and portion sizes, and nutrition guidelines for all food stations including vending areas. They offer frequency cards for the wellness plate combo to encourage employees to choose healthy options. Menu options are available with nutrition information on the hospital intranet. Nutrition information is also displayed at most food stations including Simply to Go. Nutrition staff would like to improve their healthy vending options from 20% currently to at least 50% in 6 months. The weight management program for employees called Create Your Weight is nutrition and behavior based. The employees pay an initial fee to cover materials, but upon successful completion of the session the fee is reimbursed by HR. Just this growing season, they have joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers fresh local produce to employees every week.

Opportunity for physical activity is plentiful on the Beaufort Memorial campus and surrounding grounds. The LifeFit Wellness Center is an onsite facility with a very reasonable monthly membership fee. Along with a membership comes initial assessments and appropriate health coaching, an incentive program and a ½ price discount for family members. For employees who prefer to join an offsite facility, a partnership with the YMCA for discounted memberships has been forged. The stairwell location just across the hall from the elevators is a perfect opportunity for “point of decision” prompts to encourage stair use. Kate Gleason Park is adjacent to the back of the hospital campus between them and the coastline. This park has a walking trail that is partially shaded by the magnificent oak trees. The hospital is currently planning for an expansion of the park’s walking trail onto their campus. This trail will be marked and mapped upon its completion. Bike racks are available for their cycling enthusiasts. Physical activity is also promoted through challenges, awareness events, and sponsorship of community fitness initiatives. They are a training site for an upcoming 3-Day walk for Breast Cancer.

Village Hospital and Spartanburg Regional Medical Center are part of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) and although they share corporate practices, policies, and employee wellness offerings their environments and dynamic are unique, each brings its own strengths and challenges. The Spartanburg Regional Foundation just awarded the employee wellness program with a grant to implement a Healthy Tray Project based on the new MyPlate guidelines. This generous funding will positively impact employees at both Village Hospital and Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and help encourage balanced and nutritious choices.

The SRHS employee wellness program uses a shiny red apple as its branding icon and there are banners and informational displays strategically placed at both facilities. This system wide program is incentive based and involves accumulating credits throughout the year for healthy behaviors that can be exchanged for a variety of prizes. All SRHS employees are eligible for this incentive program regardless of benefit status. Annual HRA, screenings, and biometric measurements are done by employee health and Disease Management programs are available when a need is identified. The Center for Health and Healing, which focuses on Mind Body Medicine is also available for employees who need some help with stress management, among other services. The availability of educational material is plentiful at both facilities through extensive library like Community Resource Centers.

All SRHS facilities fall under the tobacco free campus policy. Tobacco users are identified during the annual employee health assessment and resources recommended when appropriate. Smoking cessation and nicotine replacement therapy are offered at a discounted rate. Just recently a Nicotine Anonymous program was started that is promoted and available to all. These meetings take place on the Village Hospital campus. The tobacco free policy is first addressed in orientation and signs in both English and Spanish are posted at main entrances and throughout grounds along sidewalks and pathways. Village Hospital uses the best practice sign combo of “tobacco free” and “campus under surveillance” outside the Emergency Room entrance.

The food environments of these two facilities are very different. Village is a self managed department that specializes in crowd pleasing made to order food stations. They have a fantastic garden on their hospital campus and are able to use fresh seasonal produce from the garden in their cafeteria. A huge bonus! This beautiful garden can be seen from the main lobby and cafeteria windows. Custom recipes and make to order food stations create a challenge with offering accurate nutrition information, but this is something they are planning to work on. Snack and grab-n-go displays offer healthy options and the salad bar doubles as a yogurt parfait bar for a healthy breakfast alternative. An icon to identify healthy options and adopting a set of nutrition criteria are also in the planning stages. There is limited vending and each food machine has designated slots for healthy options.

Spartanburg Regional Medical Center has several food environments throughout their campus including a main cafeteria and several smaller satellite cafés. These have consistent menu offerings each day and similar nutrition labeling at their respective food stations. Morrisons manages these and uses their set of nutrition criteria for labeling. They have a beautiful salad bar in the main cafeteria and a fresh fruit station right next to it. The display shelves holding the bags of chips have a spreadsheet of nutrition information posted the side. Healthy options in the Outtakes display makes for easy healthy on the go options like fruit cups, yogurt, salads, and even sandwich with baked chip combos. Vending machines have designated slots for healthy options down the right column in each machine.

Both hospitals have onsite fitness rooms available by badge access to employees and physicians 24/7 with a $30 per year fee that helps pay for upkeep and maintenance of equipment. The fitness rooms have cardio equipment, free weights, fitness balls, and open space for group classes. Employees sign a liability waiver and the opportunities for physical activity are addressed in orientation.

Village is a model facility for accessibility of stairs. Their main stairwell is an open concept with windows at every level to let in natural light and is located around the corner from the elevators, visible through an open doorway. This is ideal for “point of decision” prompts to encourage stair use…a project currently at the printers! They have bike racks on the back side of the property near the garden and a sidewalk surrounding their campus, complete with benches, that is used by employees and the community as a walking/jogging trail.

Spartanburg Regional Medical Center’s campus sits adjacent to a park with paved walking trails and fitness tips displayed on light post banners. Along with the on-site fitness room, employees have the option of using the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab gym at no charge during limited hours. They offer Yoga twice a day, one day each week both at lunch and in the evening. They are a model facility for their indoor walking route clearly identified with directional signs and fitness tips. Their newest venture is a Couch to 5K initiative that is led by a wellness team member who is also a running enthusiast.

To set up a site visit with the Working Well Manager, contact Jen Wright.

06-24-2011 04:01 (EDT)