You can tell things are changing at Witham Health Services by looking at the hospital’s vending machines. They used to carry splashy advertisements for Mt. Dew and Coke. Now the machines promote water and Diet Coke.
As of last year, all vending machines offer healthy options and the same is strongly encouraged at all catered meetings. The offerings in Witham’s cafeteria are also becoming more healthy. A lot of employees eat two or more meals a day at the hospital, said Trina Rose, Witham’s wellness coordinator. That makes it especially important that Witham offers healthy food choices.
Those choices extend beyond the hospital itself.
Witham’s Consumer Supported Agriculture program, which started in June, gives employees easy access to fresh, local food. Witham partnered with This Old Farm in Colfax, Ind., to supply employees with certified organic meat, eggs and produce. Those who participate pay $30 a week for a bin of fresh food that comes from the 88-acre farm. The food is delivered to the hospital every week, and employees can place orders online.
The Boone County hospital system’s food offerings are just the tip of the iceberg for the wellness program that started in 2009.
Rose was brought on in 2008 to launch the program, and she has the help of a part-time associate and contract staff who work on events and community outreach. The program has grown to the point that Witham now offers its wellness program to others. Among its clients are Boone County government and the city of Lebanon.
Last August Witham opened an onsite wellness center, and a few months ago it was stocked with brand new fitness equipment. Outside the hospital there is a quarter-mile walking track. And the Witham Family YMCA is on campus and a few short minutes away.
The hospital also provides indoor and outdoor maps for distances of a mile and two miles. And there’s a stairwell map for those who choose to integrate fitness into their movement around the hospital complex. It’s not uncommon, Rose said, to see employees using the stairs instead of the elevator.
The stepped-up emphasis on wellness seems to be working for Witham. Rose said 94 percent of the hospital’s approximately 430 eligible employees participate. Being part of the program requires participating in at least four wellness events a year of the 18 to 20 that are offered. Employees who excel are featured in Witham’s monthly newsletter. The idea, said Rose, is that employees will inspire one another and share information about how they make wellness a priority.
Among the activities Rose brought with her from another fitness related job in Lebanon is the Silver Sneakers class she teaches. It’s a free, chair-based class that’s open to employees and the community at large. While it’s intended for folks over 65, the three, 45-minute weekly sessions often attract younger people.•