Meghan Blueberry McCarthy, MBA, MPH, is the Director of Healthy Lives for Baptist Health Care, a 6,000 plus employee hospital system in Pensacola, Florida. Along her diverse 15 year career, she has worked for the largest public hospital in the US, the military, non-profits and universities but at the end of the day she is just a girl who loves vegetables and proving to people that they are stronger than they think.
You make 227 decisions every day about the fuel you put in your body, but you have influence over many more by those around you. Do you use your nutritional power for good or evil?
I planned to be a doctor--only because you don't grow up seeing Public Health or Population Health Management super heroes. While I was in college and working as an EMT, my younger brother was in a bad car accident and my family lived in a Ronald McDonald House while he recovered, which basically means we were able to live in the hospital with him-inside the health care delivery system. It was how the teams worked together to put a human being back together that saved his life. Administration, medicine, nutrition, mental health, sleep, and then of course there was the bill. The story has a happy ending and it left me with a responsibility to take elaborate care of my own body but also to create environments that support others treating themselves well and taking care of each other. I went back to the books to get a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and a Masters in Public Health (MPH) and started putting them to good use to prove that WELLNESS can be financially sustainable even profitable while improving quality.
Healthy Lives is comprehensive wellness in clinical practice. We are a health coach based team of 10 that uses annual biometric screening, self-reported health risk assessment and claims data to help each member navigate themselves to being the healthiest version of themselves. Each individual's path and plan is unique.
Our results at the end of year 1 with 90% participation:
•37% increase in high levels of exercise
•35% decrease in hypertension (BP under 140/90)
•19% decrease in nicotine use
•10% decrease in large waist circumference
•8% decrease in individuals with elevated LDL, with mean LDL cholesterol levels decrease 4%
•8% decrease in individuals with metabolic syndrome
•4% decrease in individuals with undiagnosed diabetes
•3% decrease in individuals with BMI over 30
Overall, an 11% reduction in avoidable cases of chronic disease (diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, COPD and lung cancer) which saved our health plan an estimated $577, 284 which funded incentive pay outs to team members and their spouses of $194,000.
And then we turned around and did it again with even better results for an outside corporation.
We are working hard to continue to build and support a culture of wellness (no donuts at meetings, elevators are for patients and guests, extreme desk make-overs, grocery store tours with the RD at lunch). I use the WELCOA benchmarks every day. All of them. The power is in the checks and balances of the 7 and then networking with other wellness professionals. You don't have to recreate the wheel, take the wellness wheel and customize it to your community.
I walk my talk by training for my first marathon, co-chairing the American Heart Association Health Walk, teaching cooking classes for local school district families with children with high BMIs and serving as co-chair of our Chamber of Commerce's health care committee, partnering with the Junior Leagues' Kids in the Kitchen initiative but the example is also set by my CEO and all our health heroes. I hold all leaders and team members accountable treat their body as well as an Olympic athlete's. We are industrial, medical and clerical athletes!
My favorite innovation for this practice is the bathroom break total body workout. The bathroom is our bodies natural alarm clock to move. If we are drinking enough water, we can get in 5 hydration/bathroom breaks a shift. I challenge everyone to use a restroom on another floor, do some lunges on the stairs, stretch your arms, take a few deep breaths and make it a stress relieving time out. Once you are back to your work station do 5 quick chair squats (or other mini exercise like a wall push up). No sweating, no changing clothes, no hour in the gym but that habit adds up to 25 squats a day, 125 squats a week and 500 squats a month. You see and feel those results!
To have a truly well America, we need to optimize our work places as non-negotiable foundations to health. We frequently discuss the importance of school lunches and recess for our children but somehow when we turn 18 we think its okay to eat lunch out of vending machine and sit for 8 hours straight. We would never send our children to a school like that because we inherently know that they would not be healthy, happy or PRODUCTIVE but yet CFO’s argue the wellness does not impact productivity or show positive ROI.
My vision is that health promotion will evolve into an inpatient speciality service to maximize the time spent in acute care and will reduce readmissions and infections, increase healing time, improve education and yield greater herd immunity. And that this value and prioritization will equaled in our work places, schools and government.
In the next five years, I plan to make the world a healthier place by focusing on policy and public service to improve our nation's health care delivery system.
Will you support me?