It’s been a year since Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) launched EnergizeSM, the innovative health and wellness program with a goal to improve employee health. Energize is part of AAMC’s 10-year strategic plan, Vision 2020: Living Healthier Together, which includes a call to action for the health system to serve as a community role model for healthier behaviors.
With Energize, AAMC set out to create a culture of wellness for employees by promoting lifestyle choices including healthy eating habits, exercise, stress reduction, and smoking cessation. The grassroots movement involved employee input every step of the way, which includes a group of more than 40 wellness champions who meet monthly to serve as a focus group, give advice and spread the word. The health system supports employees by providing incentives and tracking success.
“Energize is about building a culture of wellness,” says AAMC President and CEO Victoria A. Bayless. “Our Living Healthier Together vision is in part helping our community members take better care of themselves and their families, and that includes our caregivers. As a health system, we need to be role models in this region for health, not sickness. You’ll hear more about prevention and healthy choices. We’re committed to making care more affordable, providing it at the right place and time, and ensuring our region has access to the very best doctors and medical technology.”
Many employees have success stories to share about losing weight, quitting smoking and eating healthier. The idea of being a role model for the community is hitting home for AAMC healthcare workers and many are making positive changes. Click here to watch a video featuring employees.
Wendy Brady, a health information management professional at AAMC, shares her story. “I joined Weight Watchers in November 2011, and was off to a slow start since that was around the holiday season,” says Brady. “I then became a Wellness Champion, hoping it would give me the extra boost I needed. I have lost 32 pounds, my blood sugar and cholesterol are in acceptable range, and I’ve reduced my blood pressure medications, which I’ve been taking for more than 10 years. Soon, I hope to eliminate them altogether.”
In May 2011, AAMC kicked off Energize with the week-long “WellFest.” Employees were invited to participate in free fitness classes, stretching exercises, walks, and nutrition demonstrations by staff dietitians. Following WellFest, monthly themes highlighted various healthy habits such as fruits and veggies in July, weight management in September and taking the stairs in February. In September, AAMC began offering 25 weekly on-site fitness classes (also open to community members), as well as Weight Watchers at Work. In October, nearly 1,500 employees participated in a movement challenge, where they received free pedometers and competed in teams to see how much physical activity they could do in a multi-week timeframe. The on-campus gym previously reserved for cardiac rehabilitation patients was opened to employees during certain hours at no cost. AAMC’s food services leaders incorporated healthier options into the cafeteria offerings as a result of employee feedback.
Employees flagged as having chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, received a letter at home from AAMC’s employee health manager with a personal appeal to take control of their health by participating in health coaching.