Nursing News

Wellness Program Keeps Cleveland Clinic Nurses Healthy and Happy

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By Megan M. Krischke, contributor

The Cleveland Clinic is all about wellness—not just the wellness of its patients, but also the wellness of its nurses. In 2006, a wellness team, headed by Michael Roizen, M.D., the clinic’s chief wellness officer, posed the question, "How do we improve the experience of nursing for our staff?" From that question the Nursing Wellness Program was born.

Wellness Program
The Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness program helps nurses to focus on their health, exercise and nutritional needs.

The program is divided into four components:

1. Wellness as One—Consists of individual activities, such as participating in free Weight Watchers meetings and a personal exercise program.

2. Wellness to Go—Food carts stocked with nutritious options visit units to provide healthy snacks for the staff.

3. Wellness Breaks—Workshops and seminars on various health topics.

4. Wellness Resources—Access to discounts on exercise equipment or other health-related programs.

"We developed wellness champions on each unit," explained Michelle Cameron, RN, BSN, RM, the clinic’s director of healing solutions. "It could be a nurse, a secretary, or an aide—whoever on the unit who is passionate about wellness. We knew that the moment people would choose to change their lifestyles would not always be in a classroom or seminar at the Clinic, so the wellness champions serve as an advocate for co-workers.”

Cameron gave a recent example. “One of our nurses in ICU decided to quit smoking on a Friday and by Monday her body was undergoing a lot of stress. Her wellness champion connected her with us [the wellness team] and we connected her with a smoking cessation team.”

"One of our units picks a new health theme each month to raise awareness about steps to increased wellness. Themes are along the lines of: take the stairs, drink water and ‘five-a-day’ to increase intake of fruits and vegetables. This has brought the unit together as a team and has increased their concern for wellness and for each other," Cameron explained.

Michelle Augustine, an LPN who is studying to become an RN, has been employed at Cleveland Clinic for 18 months. She is taking advantage of a number of the nursing wellness services that the clinic offers. When the no-cost Weight Watchers program began six weeks ago, Augustine joined right away and is thrilled to have already lost 18 pounds toward her ultimate goal of losing 75 pounds. The clinic offers a $100 bonus to any employee who loses 10 percent of his or her body weight and keeps it off for a year.

"The Weight Watchers meetings are on my lunch hour and I have accountability with co-workers, so I don't have an excuse not to take advantage of this service," Augustine stated. "I think the nurse wellness program is really positive because it shows that the clinic doesn't only care about patients. While we care for patients, the clinic cares for us. I have finally found the place I'll retire from."

Augustine also takes advantage of the farmers’ market that the hospital hosts at two separate times of day, enabling employees from all shifts to have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. The campus cafeteria buys the produce that is not purchased by the employees. It is then prepared and served in the cafeteria to employees and guests.

"The clinic is a pretty healthy place. It is hard to find a candy bar here—you are lucky if there is a chocolate-covered peanut in the vending machine," Augustine said with a laugh.

Among other services offered by the wellness program are food carts for night-shift employees, free yoga classes and a "refresh center" where nurses can take a quick nap or have a hot drink before their drive home from work. The clinic also has a new nursing orientation program that teaches self-care to nurses who are new to the facility. It provides each nurse with a home care package that includes a guided imagery CD and aromatherapy products to aid in relaxation or alertness. It is just another way that the hospital seeks to care for its staff of caregivers, keeping them healthy and happy.

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