ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Catie Larsen

On Our Way to Wellness Success

I have been working at Valley County Health System since 2011. I have gradually encouraged the development of the hospital's interest to create the Wellness Program. Our 260 employees have participated in weight loss challenges, walking works, and lunch N’ learns for the last year now. As the Wellness Coordinator, I have helped with healthcare costs and bettering our employee morale. I have had several webinar classes and competitions to get our associates motivated and the information they need to live a healthier life style.

1. Professional Development

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, along with a minor in nutrition, from Wayne State College in 2009. I had the opportunity to do an internship at UNC Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When I moved back to my home town, I knew there was a big need for wellness in our area. I was able to become a member of WELCOA this year. WELCOA has been a huge help for me to start our wellness program from scratch. Step-by-step, I have been able to create interest in our hospital and get employees involved in wellness.

2. Demonstrated Success

It has been difficult at Valley County Health System to get the support my wellness program needs. The successes I have had in the last year have been: getting the associates to participate in weight loss challenges, informational lunch n’ learns, one on one session to develop workout programs etc. SinceI have been building my program from the ground up, it has been a slow process. Now that I have the associates' interest, they are seeing great results. I will bring Weight Watchers to work for the employees beginning on November 6th, 2014. I have also worked with our cafeteria to have healthier options for our employees to choose from. With our monthly lunch n’ learns, I have a lunch served to the attendants along with the recipes. I have had a lot of feedback that they like having the option to eat helathy! With gaining the trust from my co-workers I have started to gain trust and respect from our upper management. I am hoping to have great improvements as we move toward being a company that strives to be a health oriented environment.

3. Leadership

Being a leader in Wellness and at Valley County Health System is important to me. I think it is very important to be what you are trying to encourage others to be. I have become a preacher at VCHS. What I preach is what I do. I love that my co-workers will come and ask about what races are coming up, and inquire about training with me so they can get in better shape.  If I have lunch in our cafeteria we discuss the healthier food choices provided at lunch that day. I find it very important to be available for the associaties to show my support.

4. Innovation

I have found that if you do not force someone to do something you have better results. I have had a lot of employees ask “do I have to be in this weight loss competition?” In response, I let them know that you do not have to do anything they don’t want to do, but always know I am here when they're ready. By developing gradual results from co-workers that have participated, I have gained trust from those who have not wanted to participate in the Wellness program. I now have a larger support group and they are branching out and talking to other co-workers and encouraging them to participate. Just by being there for others and the desire to help them has made such a huge difference for them trusting me. Our wellness program has been a great way to develop relationships and giving associates the chance to know each other in different ways.

5. Compelling Vision

The biggest threats I see in the next 5 years is change. The health field in general is constantly changing. I think it will be up to us to make sure we continue making wellness an important part of our co-workers, friends and families lives. It will be important to stay up to date with research and changes within the industry so we can continue to teach others. I am hoping my program will continue to grow so I can gain my upper managements trust and support. With their support I believe I would be able to get more involved with the upcoming wellness events to gain more information and knowledge to bring back to our facility.

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