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Novant Health Rowan leaders joins wellness challenge

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

A simple conversation between Corporate Wellness Nurse Val Velte and Director of Surgical Services Jean Young fostered an idea that had perfect timing. With other wellness opportunities already being implemented at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, the time was right to get the leadership team involved.

“The Leadership Wellness Challenge came from a random conversation at a recent screening event and I sort of ran with the idea and consequent plan. We all want to help others live a healthy lifestyle,” said Velte.

Wellness opportunities for Novant staff already in place hope to encourage activity and better nutritional choices. Initiatives such as opening the fitness center in the cardiac rehab department offer the staff a chance to include a workout before or after a shift. The walking trail around the hospital campus is in place and everyone is encouraged to use it. All staff members are encouraged to have their cholesterol and blood sugar checked twice a year as a way to monitor each individual health situation.

Healthy options take the forefront at the café, just off the information desk in the lobby. Chef Chris Herron and lead registered dietician Katrina Weavil welcome the community to stop by and enjoy a meal while sampling some of their healthy creations. Herron and Weavil take into account the appropriate sugar, salt and fat recommended daily requirements, and calorie levels are posted with available meal choices. At least one wellness combo is offered with each meal.

A “Take the Stairs” campaign is coming up soon for all staff. While using the stairs, they can enjoy paintings and murals from local artists along the wall of the stairwells. All team members will have the opportunity to attend classes during April and May. Already planned are such seminar titles as Stress Less, Personal Safety, Healthy Cooking and Eating, and Finding Your Personal Fitness Adventure.

Armed with all these good things happening, Velte wanted to target the leadership team.

“Our leadership team has already taken on the task of changing our corporate culture to one of personal health improvement,” she said. “The leaders have the unique opportunity to set the pace. Dari Caldwell, NHRMC president, and all the members of her staff have already set and achieved personal health goals and will tell you that they look and feel much better. The timing was right to begin this initiative with the other leaders at NHRMC.”

The program does have incentives. The leadership staff will all acquire participation points with the goal of winning Fitbits and other prizes. Participation points come from attending the seminars and by working out in various places.

“They can get that workout at our cardiac fitness center or the YMCA and the Forum,” Velte said. “A walk around the campus gets points, too. We just want them up and moving.”  Health screenings will provide the results as the leaders make changes to their daily routines.

As director of the hospital’s pharmacy, Carla Kennedy agrees with the wellness emphasis.

“I really appreciate Novant’s focus on wellness and investing in their leadership team. In order for us to be successful leaders, we must first take care of ourselves,” she said. “We all have stressful jobs and hectic schedules, often skipping meals and eating fast food, with little time to exercise. The challenge helps people like me. I have found that I have difficulty losing weight or exercising alone. I need my peers to motivate and encourage me along the way. Earning points for exercising and attending classes speaks to our competitive nature. I’m hoping to win this challenge.”

Novant Health Chaplain James Cook agreed. “Working for Novant Health and participating in our wellness program provides me a support team and opportunities for education about my health. I think as leaders we must strive to be consistent in our exercise, taking time off for our family, to recharge and to rest,” he said. “We must be encouraging to others. After all, we are in the healthcare business. Personally, participating in the wellness program helps me to be accountable for my own health. Having professional support will pay dividends.”

“Raising awareness by weekly reminders and information, providing the actual tools to make healthy decisions and offering personal health coaching and encouragement along the way will foster that success. We’ll also encourage the personal connection to their healthcare provider,” Velte said. “The most important factor in the success will be the shared support from NHRMC leaders and the vision of Novant Health in proactive prevention and wellness in all of the communities we serve. I am positive that the program will be successful.”

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