Penn Medicine Princeton Health
Organization creates a CEO Step Club to promote engagement and physical activity among nurses and other staff
We are pleased to shine the spotlight on Penn Medicine Princeton Health, an exceptional Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ (HNHN) Champion.
When staff wellness is a part of a hospital’s strategic plan, it’s sure to become a priority for the organization. That’s the current situation for Penn Medicine Princeton Health, who joined Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation at the beginning of 2023.
The hospital’s wellness program is multi-pronged — one part involves creating opportunities to promote physical health for employees, and the other focuses on mental health. Both are offered for all staff members — but particularly geared toward frontline workers — at the organization.
What kickstarted the program was an idea from the CEO of Penn Medicine Princeton Health, James Demetriades, MBA. He wanted to find new ways to engage and connect with staff on the front lines. These workers had been through so much hardship during the pandemic, and he wanted to support them in a hands-on way. Soon, the CEO Step Club was born.
Open to everyone, this club provides events and opportunities for people of all activity levels to get moving. The club provides:
- Walks around campus when employees can chat with the CEO
- Fun runs at local, scenic spots
- Step challenges
- Walking events for night shift employees
The club’s biggest event so far was the One Million Steps Challenge. Participants formed teams of 4–8 people, then tracked their steps over a 4-week time period. The goal was to log a million steps. The teams who accomplished this feat won 100 points toward their benefits program, which is equivalent to $50. The winning team, who had over 3 million steps, also won branded swag in the form of specially designed long sleeve t-shirts.
“We had 52 teams participate in the One Million Steps Challenge with a total of 55.6 million steps, and it was a really fun and engaging event,” says Ellen Winkle, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, EBP-CH, nursing professional development specialist. “Out of those teams, 27 reached 1 million steps or more. During the event, we saw ourselves getting more competitive with each other, and we definitely had an uptick in our steps.”
Mental Health Matters, Too
Staff wellness, which is embedded in the initiatives at Penn Medicine Princeton Health, means more than physical activity. It also encompasses emotional and mental health, especially for health care workers.
During the pandemic, a handful of nursing units created their own Oasis Rooms. These dedicated areas were used by those who needed a quiet place to rest, recharge, and release tension. Funded by the units themselves, they included things like massage chairs, aromatherapy, adult coloring books, soft music, and other tools to help nurses and other providers unwind.
Due to the positive feedback and success of the initial Oasis Rooms, the wellness committee is planning to add Oasis Rooms to every unit in the facility. The goal is to standardize the rooms to contain the most valuable and well-loved components from the original rooms. To do this, the group is polling employees and gathering feedback to identify which room elements are most beneficial. One clinical nurse was the driving force behind securing a grant to fund nurse wellness initiatives, and that grant will fund the Oasis Room project.
“We want to make sure the Oasis Rooms are what the nurses want, which is why we’re going floor-to-floor to collect feedback,” says Ellen. “Once we have that information, we’ll come together as a task force to create the additional Oasis Rooms.”
The organization also offers Schwartz Rounds, which are regularly scheduled group meetings where health care workers can talk about the social and emotional concerns that arise from caring for patients and families. It’s a safe space for people who may otherwise be uncomfortable talking about their vulnerabilities.
The Schwartz Rounds are designed to:
- Enhance teamwork, interdisciplinary communication, and appreciation for colleagues — no matter their roles and contributions
- Reduce stress and isolation felt by health care workers
- Increase understanding of the social and emotional components of patient care
- Improve feelings of compassion toward patients
- Boost a health care worker’s willingness to respond to the needs of patients and their families
More Resources for Frontline Workers
This is just the beginning of the wellness initiatives for nurses at Penn Medicine Princeton Health. Now that the wellness committee is meeting regularly, new events and programs will blossom, and resources from Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation are sure to guide the way.
“As a hospital, nurse wellness is a priority for us,” says Ellen. “We want to make sure nurses have access to resources that we offer, as well as those from Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation.”
What does your organization do to promote nurse well-being? Share with us in our discussion.
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