Employees of Northwell Health have encouraged each other to eat better, stress less and move more for the past nine months as part of a health system-wide wellness challenge. As a result, 10 of those participating in the health initiative will be getting free trips to their choice of the Seven Wonders of the World. Their names will be drawn on Aug. 6 during Northwell Health’s annual employee barbecue and softball tournament at Mitchel Field in Uniondale.
The lucky travelers are among more than 6,000 employees of the 21-hospital health system who participated in at least two of three health challenges that began late last year. In order to participate, employees had to log on to myWellness, a web-based and mobile platform that allows them to track their physical activity and support their coworkers.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, full-time employees spend more than one-third of their day at their jobs, so workplace wellness programs and initiatives can provide an important opportunity to help reduce health risks and promote and improve the quality of life for employees.
During the 2015 holiday season, employees kept each other accountable for healthy and unhealthy behaviors with the Fit & Festive challenge. Next, employees learned about managing stress and challenged each other with such tasks as turning off mobile devices for 30 minutes each day; and finally, a collective 2.5 billion steps were logged by employees walking in teams or solo in the “Walk the Wonders” challenge.
For Heta Patel, a pharmacy coordinator at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the wellness challenge was just what she needed to jumpstart her fitness routine. After coming back from maternity leave, she signed up for it and Weight Watchers, another Northwell Health-sponsored wellness program. “It has helped me lose 43 pounds, so I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight and then some,” said Ms. Patel, a mother of two.
As captain of her walking team, Pharm Walk, Ms. Patel logged 1.3 million steps trekking around LIJ’s New Hyde Park hospital campus, which also includes Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Zucker Hillside Hospital, and taking the stairs between the pharmacy in the basement and another on the hospital’s eighth floor.
Ms. Patel also gained a friend and supporter in her fitness quest, Helen Paulucci, a chemical dependency counselor at Staten Island University Hospital. The two women would message each other daily on the myWellness platform with challenges and words of encouragement.
Like Ms. Patel, Ms. Paulucci also lost weight (18 pounds), joined Weight Watchers and was a team captain for the Walking Wonders.
As a wife, mother of tween and teen-age children who also must balance a full-time job, Ms. Paulucci appreciated the Stress Less challenge the most. “I was taking care of everyone else, and needed to learn how to take care of me,” said Ms. Paulucci, who counts learning to meditate and more energy as takeaway perks of the challenge.
This Saturday, Northwell Health President & CEO Michael Dowling will announce winners of the Walk the Wonders vacations, which include the option of traveling to one of these destinations: Lisbon, Roman Colosseum, Petra, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza, Christ the Redeemer, and Machu Picchu.