By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A yearlong wellness-incentive program at Meadowbrook Healthcare has proven a success for the organization and its employees.
The incentive, called “Stairwellness 2012,” centered around the employees’ efforts to climb the facility’s five-story stairwell on a regular basis for a financial reward.
In all, Meadowbrook paid out $21,219 to 97 employees who climbed 376 miles of stairs.
“It’s been a very successful program,” said Meadowbrook Administrator Paul Richards. “It’s part of an overall wellness program designed to improve the overall health of our staff. If we take care of our employees, then they can take care of our patients and residents.”
The concept was relatively simple: Employees who participated received checks in July 2012 and January 2013 corresponding with how many miles of stairs they climbed during each half year.
“If you climb from the basement to the fifth floor twice per shift, you will climb 7 miles over the course of a year,” said Laurie Marvin, community-relations coordinator. “A total of 12 employees logged in enough trips to the roof to earn the full $350.”
Employees received $50 for every mile they climbed, with 84 employees receiving checks in July and 70 employees receiving another check in January.
Besides the 12 employees who reached the 7-mile plateau, 20 employees hiked 6 miles and 12 employees climbed 5 miles.
But the financial incentive was not the only reason employees bought into the program.
“I was pregnant when I first started,” said Sheena Cruise, who works in Medical Records and climbed the full 7 miles. “I’m not big into exercising, but I did not want to gain weight during my pregnancy.”
Crusie’s doctor approved the exercise program during her pregnancy, and she was able to climb almost to the due date of her baby, Boone, who was born on July 8.
After a three-month maternity leave, she returned to work and picked up on the stair climbing where she left off, doubling her trips each day to ensure she reached her 7-mile goal.
“I feel that it helped me out when I was pregnant and made it easier when I returned,” she said. “When I started, I was so out of breath, but now I feel great.”
Patty VanHeuverzwyn also completed the 7-mile program.
“I started using the stairs even before this started,” she said. “I do my treadmill (at home) every night and day for 15 minutes each, and I thought this was a good way to add to my daily exercise.”
VanHeuverzwyn lost 15 pounds over the course of the year and agreed with Crusie that the stairs got easier after each ascent.
“It’s been a good program,” she said. “It’s helped a lot of people who work here.”
Staff physician Dr. Richard Lacki also participated in the program and praised Meadowbrook’s efforts to promote wellness for its staff.
“As a participant and an observer, I could see that a lot of employees took this seriously and were enthusiastic about it,” he said. “Any amount of exercise is beneficial, but the important thing with exercise is to develop a routine and incorporate it into your daily life.”
Richards said he appreciated the camaraderie he could see developing among employees as they worked toward their goals.
“We’ve worked to develop an aggressive wellness program here,” he said, noting that Meadowbrook has provided funding for blood tests, cholesterol screenings and other healthy measures.
The program will continue in 2013, and Marvin said Meadowbrook hopes to have even more participation from staff in the upcoming months.
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