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Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis sets an example in employee wellness

Wellness has become a big topic of discussion in recent years. The concept has even made its way into large companies who are working to improve their employees’ wellness. According to Human Resources Executive Online, corporate wellness programs have been reported to improve employee health, increase productivity and yield a significant return on investment for the employer.

When Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis’s Administrator and CEO Derick Ziegler first decided to start an employee wellness initiative, he surveyed a small group of Baptist Memphis colleagues to gauge their needs. The requested needs for wellness improvement focused in four areas; physical, nutritional, financial and spiritual. The program name, Well4Me, incorporates all four aspects.

Derick suggests that companies start small in their efforts. Baptist Memphis started the Well4Me program with easy options, such as an eight week “Biggest loser” contest, a “Walk Across America” contest measured with pedometers, free yoga and zumba classes, monthly farmer’s markets, 30 minute financial seminars and a “well with my soul” online devotions. The budget was under $3,000 for approximately 3,300 Baptist Memphis employees.

After receiving positive feedback, the programs are beginning to grow. Several Baptist Memphis colleagues have had great results, including Robbi Jouben who was recently recognized by the Memphis chapter American Heart Association for losing 60 pounds and lowering his hemoglobin A1c from 8.6 to 5.6, putting him out of the type 2 diabetes range.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis employees Melanie (right) and Dukes (center) discuss healthy foods with dietitian Christy Davis FernandezBaptist Memphis has two colleagues participating in a Well4Me Personal Challenge to improve their numbers. The program is spearheaded by Dr. Steve Gubin, cardiologist at Stern Cardiovascular Foundation, along with his wife Dr. Karen Gubin, psychologist, Christy Davis Fernandez, dietitian, and Eileen Bailey, exercise specialists. The team members are meeting with the two participants, Melanie and Dukes, on a regular basis for the next six months to work on diet and exercise plans. The program kicked off in September, and Melanie has already lost ten pounds and Dukes has lost four. You can follow their progress at

Derick is very enthusiastic about this movement and encourages other companies to initiate similar programs with their employees. His six steps for starting the program include:
(1) Evaluate what you already have in place,
(2) Put together a small wellness team to begin planning,
(3) Ask your employees what they want, but be realistic,
(4) Develop activities based on employee feedback but be realistic,
(5) Promote the activities through various communications, like email, internal intranet and newsletters,
(6) Re-survey employees and implement changes as appropriate.

Remember to celebrate your colleagues’ success and encourage them to improve their

Does your company have a wellness program? Do you have your own personal wellness program? Do you think employee wellness programs make an impact?

-- Ashley Compton

Related Links:
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis
American Heart Association - Memphis Chapter

Ashley Compton is Senior Public Relations Coordinator of Corporate Communications at Baptist Memorial Health Care. Recently, the Chamber's Lunch & Learn series featured Derick B. Ziegler (Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis administrator and CEO) and Steven S. Gubin M.D., FACC (Stern Cardiovascular Foundation) who spoke about employee wellness.
Posted: 10/16/2012 9:51:55 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: baptist, chamber, corporate, diet, employees\, exercise, fitness, health, hospital, memphis, nutrition, team, wellness

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