Three Hospitals That Go Above And Beyond For Their Nurses
When it comes to nurse safety and wellness, these hospitals crush it! Steal their ideas for your organization.
When it comes to their health, individual nurses have a responsibility to make it a priority – but so do the organizations that employ them. Here, we’ll spotlight three Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge Premier Partners and the innovative ways they’re helping nurses be their best. Let these ideas from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), Mayo Clinic Arizona, and Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) inspire you – and your employer.
Here’s how these hospitals are supporting nurses in the 5 HNHN Grand Challenge domains:
- Mindful menu options: Both CHLA and NWH’s cafeterias offer designated healthy meals and snacks that are more nutritious and have less fat and calories than traditional options. At NWH, if staffers purchase nine of those healthy meals, they get the tenth one free. CHLA also replaced chips and processed snacks with fruits and vegetables at the cafeteria checkout line. People’s “impulse” purchase of fruits and veggies were so successful that at certain points, they were sold out and had to increase their order.
- “Maintain, Don’t Gain” challenge: Leading up to the holidays, Mayo Clinic Arizona put on a challenge to help staff members keep their weight in check during the holiday season.
- Lunch and learn sessions: Both Mayo Clinic Arizona and NWH host “lunch and learn” sessions. A recent one at Mayo Clinic Arizona included a nutritionist sharing tips and strategies on how nurses could keep up good nutrition habits on busy work days, while a session at NWH included a cooking demo on healthy Thanksgiving recipes.
- On-site farmer’s markets: CHLA is home to a farmer’s market every Wednesday. Between 10 am and 8 pm, vendors that sell healthy foods gather at CHLA for a farmer’s market that’s open to employees, patients, and their families.
- “Veggie Bucks:” CHLA’s “Veggie Bucks” program encourages people to eat and buy more fruits and vegetables. Staff and the community can buy $10 of Veggie Bucks (money that can only be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market) for just $5. Since the cost of fruits and veggies is often a barrier for people, this subsidy helps employees and the community eat healthier.
- Healthy snack carts: At NWH, volunteers round patient care units with snack carts boasting nutritious fare, like fruit and herbal teas.
- Revamped vending machines: At CHLA, administrators replaced traditional processed snacks at vending machines with healthier fare, such as baked chips and single serve packages of nuts. At NWH, the healthiest options are placed at eye-level to make them more enticing.
- Shape-Up Challenge: At CHLA, employees sign up and receive a pedometer to track their steps as a team. Over the course of 8 weeks, they aim to hit 10,000 steps per day. “It’s very popular. We have about 5,000 employees and between 500 to 600 sign up for these challenges,” says Anet Piridzhanyan, MS, RD, CHLA’s Wellness Coordinator.
- Free fitness classes: Mayo Clinic Arizona offers two yoga classes per week, as well as weekly Pilates and Zumba classes. CHLA offers free yoga and tai chi classes. When the weather is nice, they host it on the hospital’s helipad. NWH also provides tai chi and chair yoga.
- Fitness excursions: NWH plans active outings for staffers and their families. Past activities have included guided nature walks, stand up paddle boarding, and kayaking on the Hudson River.
- Exercise training sessions: At Mayo Clinic Arizona, certified personal trainers teach staff members about different aspects of fitness. For example, one session was about using resistance bands for strength-training. After nurses completed a 15-minute workout where they learned to use the bands, instructors sent them home with their own set.
- Walking Wednesdays: Every Wednesday, groups meet at designated areas on the Mayo Clinic Arizona campuses, and they walk together.
- Stair climbing challenges: Different hospital units at Mayo Clinic Arizona competed against each other to see which unit could climb the most flights of stairs in a month.
- Fatigue-fighting education seminars: Mayo Clinic Arizona has hour-long sessions on topics, such as how to get a more restful night’s sleep, fighting fatigue, and making time to rest.
- Staff relaxation rooms: A special break room at NWH is designated for patient care staff to take restful breaks. The room is specially designed for renewal or napping (no eating or cellphone use allowed).
- On-site acupuncture and chair massages: At CHLA, employees can book a discounted acupuncture appointment right on the campus. For $1 per minute, staffers at CHLA can enjoy a relaxing chair massage to unwind.
- Relaxation sessions: CHLA employees can drop in to the hospitals interfaith center for relaxing meditation sessions.
- Meditation path: NWH has a wellness path that runs around the perimeter of the organization. Staffers can walk it and read inspirational messages posted on markers along the path.
- Longer lunch breaks: NWH increased nurses’ lunch break time so they could eat lunch without rushing and have more personal time every day.
- Violence prevention classes: Mayo Clinic Arizona offers safety classes to their nurses to help protect against violence. The seminars teach nurses how to deescalate situations and remain physically safe during violent episodes.
- Medication safety zones: At NWH, there’s red tape surrounding the floor of the hospital’s medication management system. When a nurse is standing in that red zone, other staffers are not permitted to talk to her. This allows her to fully focus on the medication she’s dispensing and prevents errors.
- Drills: Mayo Clinic Arizona and NWH have drills to prepare the staff for dealing with safety-related incidents, such as active shooters. They continuously educate staff on how to keep themselves and their patients safe in emergency situations. CHLA has mandatory annual safety training course online for staff as well as Emergency Preparedness drills throughout the year.
- Rapid staff assistance: NWH instituted “Team Lavender.” If a department goes through any type of difficult experience and needs assistance, a staffer can dial an extension to request Team Lavender’s help. The team can provide anything the staff needs, including healthy snacks, pastoral care, extra workers to cover additional break time, social work care, and more. NWH staffers can also enact a Code Purple to get immediate assistance if they’re being physically or verbally threatened.
- Safe patient handling and mobility programs: NWH has many programs to support the musculoskeletal health of nurses. NWH even won the gold medal in the “SPHM Olympics” put on by their hospital system!
- Inclement weather sleepovers: When there’s inclement weather, NWH puts up staffers at the hospital with beds, coupons for free meals, and clean scrubs. This keeps nurses safe and off the roads.
Quality of Life
- “Kindness Counts” campaign: At Mayo Clinic Arizona, staff members spent a month recognizing acts of kindness. Administrators challenged participants to mindfully do something kind for someone else every day they were at work that month.
- Tulsi Rounds: Once a month, a member of the Mayo Clinic Arizona’s care management or pastoral care staff hosts an event called “Tulsi Rounds.” It's an opportunity for people to talk about things that happen on the job that may cause moral distress, such as the death of a patient or other difficult situations. “It's a way for nurses to debrief and shed some of the emotional burden that all healthcare workers carry, given the nature of the work that we do,” says Matson.
- Face time with the CEO: Four times per year, the CEO of NWH does “smoothie rounds” and delivers healthy smoothies (and copies of the recipe) to staffers himself. Not only do nurses get the nutritious boost, they also get quality time with hospital leadership.
- Dog therapy: Once a week, therapy dogs visit CHLA especially for staff so they can pet them to destress and smile.
- Support groups: CHLA offers support groups for issues like divorce, infertility, resilience, and work-life balance.
- Wellness fairs: CHLA’s annual wellness fair gives employees opportunities to check their blood pressure, BMI, blood glucose, bone density, and more. They also have tables set up where staffers can talk to dieticians, allergists, and certified personal trainers. At this year’s event, a master gardener taught employees how to garden as a way to manage stress.
- Wellness portal: CHLA also has an online portal where nurses can go to learn about health and wellness. They also get exclusive discounts on different wellness resources and tools, like gym memberships, Weight Watchers, and Eat Love. Nurses at NWH can use a computer system to request days off and set their own schedule.
That’s not all! Here are more organizations that are keeping their nurses healthy with on-site veggie gardens, spa nights, aromatherapy stations, and more.
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Learn more about the work of our Champions:
Bayhealth Medical Center
Children's Hospital - Los Angeles
How Employers Can Help Keep Nurses Healthy
New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA)
Oncology Nursing Society
Texas Nurses Association
How Employers Can Help Keep Nurses Healthy
USPHS Group Does #FitNurseFriday 5K Challenge
Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA)
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