Written by Linda Matzigkeit Wednesday, October 07 2009
As members of the health care industry, we believe it is our responsibility to serve as role models for our patients and their families while creating a culture of wellness that improves the overall health of employees. With a goal to lose 7,000 pounds as an organization in 2008, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched a comprehensive healthy lifestyles initiative called Strong4Life.
Beginning with wellness fairs, Strong4Life provided more than 7,000 employees with the opportunity to complete a health profile that included body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, blood pressure, and cholesterol screenings.
Strong4Life is designed to help employees achieve their personal wellness goals. It also is a dedicated effort to help lower health care costs for employees. With these new initiatives under way, Children’s expects to see a return on investment in increased employee engagement and lowered health care spending over the next three to five years.
As part of Strong4Life, Children's recently completed construction on the first ever StairGym both at Children’s and within a pediatric health care system in the United States. Children’s employees now have an even better reason for getting their recommended 10,000 steps in each day thanks to the new StairGym.
Stanley, Beaman & Sears Architecture and Interiors began transforming the stairwell to the StairGym in June 2008. On Jan. 8, 2009, Children’s leaders and employees were on hand to officially open the StairGym with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Boasting six levels of inspirational messages and eye-popping, larger than life imagery, the StairGym will encourage employees to squeeze in fitness and fun before, during, and after work shifts. The first floor begins with red tomato colors leading to a field of flowers inspiring employees to march up to additional levels that include a running water scene with pebbles, a green shaded forest with dancing leaves, a rocky mountainside with snowflakes, and an amazing mountain peak scene. Anyone walking up the stairs is greeted by inspirational quotes and fun facts about the health benefits of taking the stairs. All graphics were digitally printed as 3M ScotchCal wall coverings with overlaminate.
At Children’s, we think it’s important for all of us to demonstrate to our patients what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve wellness goals. Because of Strong4Life, Children’s employees lost 8,429 pounds and took 201,962,407 steps counted by pedometers provided to them in 2008. That equals 100,981 miles, enough steps to walk around the globe four times.
For 2009, Children’s has increased our goals for weight loss and steps taken, but through Strong4Life, will also increase wellness offerings and support. In February, Children’s will launch a new incentive plan to help employees meet personal goals, as well as reward them for participating in Strong4Life activities.
The StairGyms were financed by Children’s Board of Trustees. Conversions of additional stairwells into StairGyms are planned at several additional Children’s locations in 2009.
Linda Matzigkeit is senior vice president of human resources at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She began her career in human resources more than 20 years ago in the health care industry. After 10 years as a human resources consultant with Hewitt Associates, Matzigkeit brought her career full circle when she joined Children's in January 2003. Originally from central Illinois, she earned a bachelor's degree in health care administration and an MBA with a focus in human resources.