PLATTSBURGH — CVPH Medical Center’s mission is to provide the North Country with quality, affordable health-care services, and every hospital staff member plays a role in that.
The Medical Center has recently amplified that concept by initiating an employee-wellness program to give staff an opportunity to practice what they preach in their professional careers.
“We’ve brought in quite a few initiatives for wellness for our CVPH employees,” said Greg Freeman, supervisor for the hospital’s Center for Occupational Health and Wellness. “We’ve developed contracts for services at CVPH as well as other businesses to promote employee wellness.”
Wellness begins with fitness, and CVPH employees have an opportunity to use the Wellness Center at PARC for a discounted fee. Also, employees can deduct PARC payments automatically from their paychecks, Freeman noted.
The Wellness Center provides free assessment and orientation services for all new members. The facility includes more than 40 cardio machines, 30-plus strength machines, a full gymnasium, 25-meter swimming pool and a variety of group-exercise programs.
Nutrition also plays a vital role in a wellness program, and CVPH has contracted with Weight Watchers to provide nutrition support for employees.
“Starting in January of this year, we have 42 active members who have lost over 600 pounds combined,” Freeman said.
Linda Boire, an oncology data specialist who is now in her 43rd year at CVPH, has been one of those successful participants.
“I had done Weight Watchers before but had gained the weight back (after ending that program),” she said. “The convenience of having it here at CVPH makes a big difference. It helps pull us (participants) all together. We’ve all made a conscious effort to stay involved and help one another.”
The group has weekly meetings, including an initial weigh-in, and they use their time as a group to offer advice, suggestions and simple support in achieving each member’s individual goals.
“We’re all very proud,” Boire said. “The hospital has also taken it one step further: Our president, Stephens Mundy, has worked with the cafeteria to mark some of the healthier foods, to help us and the people not on Weight Watchers make better food choices.”
The hospital has also initiated some alternative-medicine programs to support individual wellness, including a program for employees to use the Healing Touch technique for reducing depression, pain, anxiety and skin-related issues. A similar plan is also available for CVPH patients while admitted to the hospital.
Employees have also asked about such programs as Zumba, and the hospital now offers a Zumba class for staff members.
“The hospital has been very responsive to employee needs,” said CVPH spokeswoman Chris Blake. “A lot of these programs have been integrated into daily schedules of our employees.”
The Center for Occupational Health and Wellness has also provided staff members with educational materials on improving wellness, including pamphlets on coping with the challenges of daily stress, the benefits of walking regularly and how to turn a 15-minute break into a wellness event.
CVPH has identified an indoor walking trail that runs from the second-floor Medical Arts Building to the south end of the Catheter Lab/Intensive Care Unit. With 3.5 trips, participants walk one mile.
Participants can also follow three outdoor loops, including a one-third-mile route around the pond, a three-quarters-mile route around the main campus and a 1.25-mile-route around the hospital’s perimeter.
Employee Support Services offers staff assistance for dealing with personal problems that can overwhelm, including marital and family problems, work-related issues, emotional and psychological problems and substance abuse.
One of the most exciting options now available for employees is an opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from area produce growers through the Community-Supported Agriculture Program.
“We’ve set up a program through Juniper Hill Farms (in Wadhams) where employees can purchase top-quality produce on a weekly basis,” Freeman said. “Juniper Hill is supported by a couple of other local farms that specialize in what they grow, giving up a variety of produce to choose from.”
Employees order fruits and vegetables on Mondays, and the growers deliver them on Thursdays. The growers also set up a farmers market on the hospital campus Thursday afternoon to provide employees with even more healthy options.
“As a family, we’ve been trying to look at things more locally, more organically,” said Shawn Rogers, associate vice president of operations for the hospital, who is a member of the hospital’s CSA Program. “Providing fresh local fruits and vegetables is a good fit for the hospital and the staff.
“Anytime you purchase locally, there is less processing, less chemicals used,” he added. “We know these fruits and vegetables are fresh. When we pick them up on Thursday, we know they were picked yesterday.”
Overall, the hospital’s efforts toward its employees’ wellness amplifies its commitment to the community.
“Healthy employees are happier on the job,” Freeman said. “It’s another way to provide the best possible services for our patients and the community.