ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Lorie Patzak

Employee Health is my passion

I currently work for Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center. I am the Manager of Employee Health and Workers Compensation for our hospital with 2150 employees. I have been a registered nurse for 30 years. I currently serve as the CREATION Health Site Champion with CREATION being the philosophy of our wellness program, Change Your Life.

Professional Development
I became a registered nurse in 1984. I worked in many areas of the hospital setting including emergency room, intensive care, oncology and medical surgical units but then specialized in occupational nursing involving employee health and wellness and have found it to be my passion. I firmly believe we should be able to go home at the end of the day feeling as well as we did when we woke up in the morning to go to work. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen for everyone because bad things can happen at work. My focus has been on education and prevention to keep employees safe and healthy while at work. I attended Columbia Southern University and studied Occupational Health and Safety. I obtained my national certification as a Certified Occupational Health Nurse. I also attended massage therapy school at North Central College. I am currently enrolled as a student at Western Governors University working towards my Master's in Nursing. Earlier this year I became a Certified WELCOA Faculty member becoming well versed in advanced methods for incorporating work site wellness into my Hospital's strategic vision to improve employee health and contain health care costs. 

Demonstrated Success
Our wellness screening results determined that we as health care providers are not a healthy bunch. How can we take good care of our patients if we are not taking good care of ourselves? We discovered that a good percentage of our workforce are pre-hypertensive, pre-diabetic, and sedentary. Not a good combination. We developed a Wellness Team and created an interest survey to see what our employees wanted and matched this with monthly themes from our philosophy of CREATION. C-Choice, R-Rest, E-Environment, A-Activity, T-Trust, I-Interpersonal Relationships, O-Outlook, N-Nutrition. We partnered with WELCOA and utilized many of the turn key programs such as Eat Right for Life and Walking for Wellness. We even created our own grassroots program called "Live Fit" which was a team based competition to promote cardiovascular exercise, awarding points based on activity, pedometer steps and learning what each letter of CREATION meant. We had over 450 employees participate that made up 72 teams. This is the most participation we have ever seen since I started working here in 2008. WELCOA'S seven benchmarks laid the foundation for us to develop our strategy, capturing senior level support and creating a cohesive wellness team that led to our success. We are changing the culture of our work force to that of whole person wellness. We have trained 68 CREATION Health Coaches representing every department to help educate and share information on the monthly theme we are working on centered on the interest survey results we received from employees. We are making the healthy choice the easy choice. Employees were surveyed last year and again this year and our wellness culture approval went up form 81% to 86%.

Leadership and Innovation
I serve as the CREATION Health Site Champion for our campus. I oversee and direct the work of our 68 CREATION Health Coaches. I am the poster child for CREATION Health. Honestly, I live, eat and breathe it. It has truly saved my life. I share my personal journey to wellness with my coaches, our employees to help motivate and inspire. I'm not perfect but I know this works. I inspire, encourage and promote, some days I feel like a cheerleader. My immediate co-worker has lost 40 pounds. She has some significant health problems at age 66 and thanks me every day for helping her to add years to her life. 

CREATION Health Spotlight: Lorie Patzak – Finding Joy Again

My name is Lorie Patzak. I am the Employee Health, Safety & Wellness Manager for Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center.  I am pleased to share with you my CREATION Health journey. It has truly been a blessing.  Not too long ago, I was truly broken. I lost my mother, my best friend. She had custody of my 14 year old nephew, so when she died, I inherited him and my mom’s dog and I’m not really a dog lover. I then moved from Ohio to Florida and took a new job, then I got married and then my 2 adult sons decided to move to Florida and moved in with us. So here I am, newly married to a chef who loves to cook for me. I gained 15 pounds. I’m totally stressed out; my blood pressure is off the chart along with my weight. I’m battling depression, I’m not sleeping, and my relationships are suffering. I was a hot mess. But then we signed up for the 8 week CREATION Health series.  This was my “AH-HAH” moment. This was a life changing event for me to learn to deal with all of my challenges and live life to its fullest, to fulfill God’s plan for me for abundant life, emotionally, physically, spiritually and not just abundantly from the wonderful 5 course meals my husband was preparing for me.

Shortly after this I was placed in my new role as the Change Your Life with Florida Hospital champion with the role of implementing programs based on CREATION Health for our campus. I embraced it whole heartily. It saved my life. I’m off the three blood pressure medications I was taking. I have mended my relationships. I’m losing weight. I’m exercising regularly. I feel good, happy, and grateful to be alive. I want people to say, “Why is she so happy?” I want to be the FACE (Following After Christ’s Example) of CREATION Health. When they want to know why I’m so happy I just say, “Well come over here and let me tell you- C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N. It’s easy for me to coordinate activities for my 50 coaches, my foot soldiers, and my army of do-gooders with enthusiasm and positive energy because I’m living it. It works.

I am especially proud of the Live Fit Activity Challenge campaign that just wrapped-up on our campus. This is a great example of the culture shift that is going on just with the participation numbers alone. We have 72 teams and over 430 employees actively engaged. OSHA says that the biggest occupational hazard we face today is sitting behind a desk for 8 hours.  Many are faced with this hazard including me. When I think about my daily activities at work, I am hard pressed to find them. I did reach for a book off the shelf and I sped my fingers across my keyboard and then I did jump to a few conclusions. But really I’m guilty of stretching the truth about my daily activity. So getting everyone motivated to increase their cardiovascular activity is very encouraging.

All of these behavior changes begin with a change of heart and I am blessed to work with some of the biggest hearted people around. It’s not easy to change bad habits. You have to pick one thing to work on at a time. Inch by inch life is a cinch but yard by yard life is hard, so don’t try to take on too much at once. Remember its progress not perfection!

CREATION Health is a set of health principles to promote the best health possible including body, mind, and spirit. It is based on Bible teachings and evidenced based health studies. Change Your Life with Florida Hospital is the official wellness program of the Florida Hospital 

Compelling Vision
A healthy workforce reflects our Christian mission. This will allow us to provide better care to our patients and is the key to our future success as an organization in the ever changing world of healthcare. We have to continue to work towards reducing health care costs and promoting whole person health for all of our employees. The Health y choice has to become the easy choice. The cost of doing nothing is frightening. I have seen the impact we have had in less than one year and have heard the success stories from lives we have helped. We are changing lives one by one. it will have a ripple effect. I need to get a CREATION Health Coach in each department on night shift. Our night shift work force are under appreciated. The toll that shift work takes on their health is staggering. I want to focus on providing them with the same tools and opportunities that has helped others. We want to partner with a wellness platform that includes telephonic health coaching, online learning modules, yearly health risk assessments and biometric screenings so that we can compare results and see what we need to focus on over the next 5 years. We have to make wellness the new "norm" for our employees and part of their daily routine and encourage self-leadership so that everyone will be empowered, encouraged and motivated to take charge of their own personal wellness. 

My biggest struggle will be changing the foods offered in our cafe and vending machines! Wish me luck :)

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