ENTRY FROM: 2019 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Mary McGaffin

I came to Wellness in a roundabout way

Current Company: Pivot Onsite Innovations
Job Title: Health and Wellness Clinic Lead at AstraZeneca Frederick Manufacturing Center
Industry: Biologic Manufacturing
Years in field: 3.5
Organizational Size: 800

Mary K. McGaffin, CRNP

I came to Wellness in a roundabout way. Early in life I was positive I wanted to be a music teacher. There were many teachers in my family who’s influences still affect me today: hard work brings reward, stay with a project to the end, ask for help when needed. In my third year of, majoring in Voice, life stepped in. Fellow students could not find jobs. My sister in-law was working on a nursing degree, so I moved to the nursing department.

Fast forward, working full-time in a stress filled hospital, married, with 2 children I decided to return to school and pursue advanced degrees. I earned dual certified as an Adult and Women’s Health nurse practitioner. It was a big undertaking but worth the effort. After graduating I took a position in private practice. The push was to see patients every 15 minutes. Days were long and stressful. I was not the mother, wife, clinician or person I wanted to be.

In 2011 I lost my 26-year-old nephew to Crohn’s disease. This started my interest in the gut, nutrition, diet and its effect on overall health. My family became involved with the Maryland Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, hosting an annual fundraising golf tournament. As a board member I am pleased to say we have donated over $100,000 to research into this silent disease.

Life has a way of making opportunities, while getting her hair done, my 91-year-old very active independent mother fell and broke her hip. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise! It was the time for me to reflect on my career and where I wanted to be. I gave notice at my job and began caring for my mother fulltime during her surgery and rehabilitation.

This is where the story gets crazy…

I had a friend working in occupational health. Knowing I'm not working she thought maybe I could help fill a position for just 3 months. I got a call from OnSite Innovations Friday and started work that next Monday! Luckily, I had a medical director and SHE associate director that were instrumental in guiding me through this new terrain. Having never worked in a manufacturing setting I needed to quickly learn the ropes. While the focus was occupational health for 3 months, I really was just trying to figure out this role. I have now been the AstraZeneca Health and Wellness lead for 3.5 years! This Biologics Manufacturing Center promises to provide medications for the future. I am privileged to work in their clinic.

What a change we have seen in the clinic. Those early day were filled with vision screenings, FIT tests and occupationally related visits. Patients are clients and wellness wasn’t really the priority. AstraZeneca does have a global platform that includes 4 pillars of wellness-Stress, Smoking Cessation, Physical Activity and Nutrition. If we wanted a balanced program we needed to add wellness, and I needed all the guidance WELCOA offered. I quickly immersed myself in all the trainings available through WELCOA. Seeing professionals discuss wellness with such passion helped me understand the importance of adding wellness.

During year number two I focused on a different wellness topic each month. I became a member of the Employee Wellness Committee. Activities during that year included: Funny bulletin boards, handouts and a few guest speakers. Meanwhile I had my nurses certified as CPR/AED and Diabetes educators. We started putting information in the elevators, monitors, bathroom stalls, anywhere to get attention. We took over the large whiteboard by the mailboxes. Everyone could pass by and see what was happening in the clinic. A large 8 dimensions of Wellness Banner is still used to announce activities.

 I heard the tagline “When “I” is replaced by “we” even illness becomes wellness”. This became my signature. I believe we can make a difference when we work together to become healthier. I started the WOW campaign and slogan: “Working On Wellness”. This has opened more opportunities to educate and bring awareness to what wellness can do. I started a monthly newsletter that included health and wellness topics focusing on 8 dimensions of wellness.

Programs have included an overnight oats bar, discussing the benefits of oats on cardiovascular health. Random Acts of Kindness and Stress kits. Nutrition month’s Rainbow Challenge: teams posted pictures of rainbow inspired plates. (One employee posted this challenge changed the way she incorporates vegetables into meals!) We schedule Lunch & Learns involving experts from the community. A Puzzle challenge (for Stress Awareness) involved pictures our 3 main buildings. Everyone worked putting their puzzle together. They now hang in each building. Fresh Fruit Fridays was such a hit now several AZ sites have started that practice. Hot Cocoa Socials and Elf on the Shelf promote collaboration between departments.

We continue to grow clinic usage and wellness participation every year. Healthy New Year/ Healthy You started with a weight-loss challenge. 104 employees participated sitewide 306 pounds were lost! We started 15 min physicals.

Our site is a Gold recipient of the Healthiest Maryland Business for 3 years. This year we received the Silver award from the Breastfeeding Coalition. This has been a wonderful opportunity to interact with other businesses in our community.

Social networking platforms has opened the door to sharing good practices with employees and between sites. I was asked to develop a larger program within Pivot/OnSite Innovations. I now am a member of that Wellness Committee as well.  WELCOA continues to guide my steps with eye-opening webinars, white papers and materials that are invaluable.

While I continued to grow I did not feel I was “walking the walk”. I have personally begun a workout program hoping my employees will see the effort, showing them, I am not just talk!  I am young in this process but feel excited about my Wellness Journey. It is wonderful to see the impact small changes can make on individuals. Even in this specialized population I have seen the influence our clinic programs are making.

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Mary K. McGaffin, CRNP
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