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HCA Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Employees Take Many Steps Towards Wellness

CJW Medical Center, an Active RVA certified employer, is launching 'Walk America' for employees to track their steps and stay fit and active at work.

By: Nan Turner

Misty Turner has worked at HCA Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals for 10 years. As human resources director, she has always collaborated with coworkers at both hospital sites to come up with ways for them to stay active in the workplace; now she is asking them to do something a little more challenging: Walk across America.

The ‘Walk America’ virtual walk program is a new initiative that CJW is launching in 2013 to encourage employees to track their steps taken during the workday using company-issued pedometers and an online computer program, with the goal being to rack up enough miles to ‘walk’ to every state capital in the country.

While ‘Walk America’ is kicking off in early January, it is by no means the only wellness program that Turner and CJW have implemented to create a culture of health and physical fitness in the workplace.

Other elements of the wellness program for 2013 are discounted memberships at several local gyms, seminars, and classes to go along with ‘Walk America’ on nutrition and healthy eating, including a Valentine’s Day-themed class for employees and their significant others. “The food will be made with local ingredients from a farm in Hanover,” Turner said. “Class participants can sample it there and then go home and prepare it themselves.”

Other sessions will be geared towards mental and emotional wellness and feature guest speakers, as well as massage therapy for additional stress relief.

Turner also plans to implement an “Eat Right at Night” program for night-shift workers, since research has shown that it is more of a challenge for them to eat a balanced diet while working nighttime hours. This will include information on nutrition and sleep in a newsletter called ‘Night Owls,’ as well as different foods to help with a balanced diet, delivered by Turner and her staff at midnight.

For their commitment to employee health and wellness, HCA Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals recently earned Active RVA certification through the Sports Backers' new Active RVA Community Awards initiative, recognizing them as an exceptional employer for offering innovative programs to promote physical activity for employees. All Active RVA certified organizations will be honored at a luncheon ceremony in February 2013 for serving as ‘physical activity role models’ in the community. There are other benefits as well – such as recognition through various Active RVA social media outlets and access to wellness program best practices.

The ‘Walk America’ program will go from January to April and has 300 employees signed up to take part; each employee will track their steps with a pedometer and use the computer program to enter their total steps taken at the end of each week. Turner also gave each participant interior and exterior maps of the CJW facilities, highlighting the walking areas and mileage. A large United States map will track the progress and total mileage, and the participants will celebrate reaching each new state capital with a healthy meal influenced by each particular state they are passing through, culminating in a bigger celebration for all participants when the program is completed.

“For Richmond we’re doing a taste of Virginia to start off with,” Turner said. “We’ll have crab cakes, and then do whatever healthier dish the next area is known for, and then we’ll add portion control. The map is going to be in our cafe so visitors can see it; we should be finished by April 30.”

Turner and CJW are also partnering with ACAC fitness centers during ‘Walk America,’ and ACAC will offer weekly on-site classes at Chippenham Hospital’s gym, such as zumba, yoga, and kickboxing, that are free to employees. ‘Walk America’ participants can also attend classes at ACAC if their schedule doesn’t work for the on-site classes.

Turner has already noticed a change in office talk since the program began.

“The crazy thing is now people are wearing pedometers all the time and asking each other how many steps they’ve taken,” Turner said.

While Turner is seeing plenty of excitement among the CJW staff about all the wellness programs, there has also been a great deal of support from the hospitals’ senior leadership, many of whom are also participating in ‘Walk America’ and realize the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

“There is a human capital – they’re our employees and coworkers.” Turner said. “Our goal is to develop programs for all employees to improve their health, safety and quality of life.”

While the aim of ‘Walk America’ is to rack up enough miles to go across the country, Turner hopes that every participant at CJW will be able to say they’ve reached a goal they set out to accomplish. “It’s about doing what you set out to do,” Turner said. “Completing something you wanted to do and achieving a goal.”

With ‘Walk America’ and numerous other wellness programs, CJW is taking big steps to help employees reach those goals and lead an active, healthy lifestyle along the way.

Is your company or school interested in becoming Active RVA certified? Click here to learn more about the program and complete the survey. The deadline to complete the survey is January 11, 2013.

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