Hospital workers who participated in the 1199SEIU Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at Mount Sinai Beth Israel collectively lost 515 pounds during the yearlong program, a success celebrated by Jeremy Boal, president of Mount Sinai Downtown, and 1199SEIU Vice President Manuel Leon, along with other Union, management and Labor Management Project (LMP) staff. At a luncheon on July 6, Dr. Boal and Mr. Leon awarded certificates of completion to employees who participated in the last of the program’s six cohorts. A collaboration between 1199SEIU, Mount Sinai and the LMP’s Workplace and Community Health Program (WCHP), the DPP helped 97 MSBI employees adopt healthy eating habits and increase their physical activity through in-person group sessions with lifestyle coaches.
Over a healthy lunch of baked salmon and vegetables, DPP participants spoke, sometimes tearfully, about how the program helped them to make healthy lifestyle changes that led to weight loss. “I used to stay at my desk and eat the wrong foods. Our coach motivated me to get up from my desk. Without the motivation, I would still be sitting at the desk eating all the wrong foods and gaining weight. Since I joined this program, I lost 18 pounds. I have more energy. I can think clearly. What an amazing program. I wish it could stay forever. It helped me tremendously and I am so grateful,” one participant expressed with emotion.
Another employee explained that healthy lifestyle change improved her communication with patients about changing their own health habits. “You can preach (lifestyle change) to patients in a positive way when you are in it with them. You can relate to the patients.” She added that it is important for healthcare workers, who devote their careers to caring for others, to prioritize caring for themselves.
Dr. Chris Pernell, WCHP’s Senior Manager, expressed pride in participants’ commitment to self-care and lifestyle change success. “Wellness looks amazing on you. It’s in your smile, your effervescence, how you talk about the program. I’m very proud of you.” Underscoring the importance of supporting employee wellness from both a business and equity standpoint, Dr. Pernell added, “You really are the engine that makes the institution successful. To see your health prioritized in the workplace is truly health equity.”
Inspired by the success stories that participants shared, Mr. Leon said: “It’s amazing to hear these testimonials and wonderful stories.” Noting that all employees would benefit from nutritional education, he added: “We should make it mandatory for everyone in the hospital to learn how bad sugar is. How much sugar a can of soda contains.” Dr. Boal remarked that MSBI will aim “to work towards meeting all wellness needs at work” and “to create an environment where attending to wellness is easy.”
After successfully partnering on the DPP, MSBI and 1199SEIU will continue to collaborate on workplace wellness via a co-led labor management committee – to be launched this fall – that will focus on enhancing wellness offerings for all MSBI employees. “You couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Dr. Boal said of 1199SEIU.
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