By: Katherine Stinson, Communications Specialist, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance
In June, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) launched its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan with the aim to achieve CKHA's new vision, "Together, Growing a Healthier Community." Believing that community health includes healthy habits among staff, physicians and volunteers, the hospital's commitment to its Vision started within the organization with a number of wellness initiatives that focus on the individual as a whole and address healthy eating, physical health and mental health.
Promoting healthy eating was identified as a priority in growing a healthier Chatham-Kent. Despite the rural location and bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables grown throughout Chatham-Kent, the population served by CKHA are reported to consume fewer fruits and vegetables than the provincial average. To promote healthy food CKHA started a bi-weekly Farmer's Market Friday that takes place throughout July, August and September. Providing a varied assortment of seasonal produce, the market and its convenience have been extremely popular with staff, patients and visitors who stock up before the weekend. Further promoting local food, CKHA's cafeteria menu now highlights menu items prepared from locally sourced ingredients with a leaf symbol – a simple way to keep local resources top of mind.
To encourage physical activity CKHA started a weekly Walking Group Wednesday. Led by a member of CKHA's Senior Leadership Team, the brisk 20-minute jaunt also allows staff to connect and chat in an informal setting. The positive momentum continues in the fall with complimentary yoga classes offered at CKHA's employee gym, The Core.
CKHA is also offering weekly Mindfulness Mondays to promote mental health. The lunchtime sessions are led by CKHA's Spiritual Care team and provide guidance in reducing stress, promoting clear thinking and increasing one's capacity for empathy. In the fall, the organization is introducing CKHA Reads, a book club for all employees. The book club will feature both fiction and non-fiction books exploring themes of health, wellness and more while promoting leisure reading and making time for one's self.
Last, to reinforce CKHA's commitment to its Vision, Lori Marshall, CKHA's President and CEO, has started a blog. Geared at both staff and the community, Lori's Blog provides insight into what she is doing in her personal life to work towards CKHA's Vision, "Together, Growing a Healthier Community." Her honest and candid posts exemplify how Lori is leading by example to improve her health and the health of her family. Lori's Blog is available here, www.ckha.on.ca/lorisblog/.