VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, April 6, 2018

Working Toward Your Wellbeing

Good morning!

vc_notes_walking_2018.jpgMany of you know we have been celebrating Public Health Week with a number of activities at the Medical Center.  Among other offerings, on Tuesday we had a health fair and a Farmer’s Market, and on Wednesday more than 50 participants took part in a fitness walk through campus.  Today is Wellness Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the School of Medicine.  The 15 stations will include a healthy food tasting, fitness demonstrations and an oral cancer screening.  Come if you can!

I appreciate all the work on the part of many people that goes into these events.  They are part of a growing movement here at UMMC to promote the development of a healthier workforce, something I wholeheartedly support.

An organized focus on wellness at the Medical Center began only about four years ago with the establishment of a formal wellness committee.  It could be said we were late to the party, but these efforts have picked up considerable momentum since then, especially with the establishment of the Department of Preventive Medicine in 2015.

Since then, among other things, UMMC has:

  • surveyed all employees on their wellness interest;

  • begun participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s worksite wellness scorecard program;

  • initiated formal wellness activity programming, now under the Everyday Wellness brand;

  • begun annual health risk assessment surveys of employees and students;

  • established plans for chronic disease self-management and, later this year, diabetes prevention; and

  • convened a multidisciplinary task force to examine and make recommendations regarding professional burnout and resiliency.

Other exciting developments are on the horizon, most notably the buildout of the sixth floor of University Hospital as an employee fitness space, slated to be completed next fall.

These efforts, guided initially by Dr. John Hall and more recently by Dr. Josh Mann, Brea Cole and other members of the Wellness Committee, have laid a solid foundation for our wellness programs.  Now we need a more permanent structure to take the reins of this effort to not only accelerate its growth but continue to foster its integration into the very fabric of our workplace experience. 

For that reason, with the new fiscal year beginning in July, we will establish an Office of Wellbeing as an umbrella structure to oversee, coordinate and grow our efforts to enhance the physical health, emotional wellbeing and professional fulfillment of our faculty, staff and students.  The formal office will provide a better mechanism to channel more resources toward wellness programs and assure that these activities are interconnected through each of our mission areas of education, research and patient care.

It's important to note that the formation of this office is also a result of the Burnout and Resilience Task Force and Work Group led by Dr. Mann and Dr. Alan Jones.

This new office will certainly have an abundance of fertile ground to till.  Every day it seems there are new reports documenting Americans’ continued struggle with weight and obesity and the chronic conditions they give rise to.  Our overuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs as a society is a concern that only seems to be growing.  And emotional burnout among caregivers has become something of an epidemic nationally. 

Good health and wellbeing among our employees and students is important in its own right, and I dearly want that for all of us.  Beyond that, as Mississippi’s only academic medical center in a state that’s at or near the bottom in most health statistics, it’s important that UMMC lead by example.

So look for future news and developments about the Office of Wellbeing.  In the meantime, let’s all take responsibility for our personal health, let’s take advantage of the supportive resources available to us if needed, let’s educate our patients about their role and responsibility for their own health, and let’s be pacesetters on the fast track toward A Healthier Mississippi.

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