Suburban Hospital has been named Washington’s “Healthiest Workplace” by Washington Business Journal for its efforts to improve and encourage healthy eating, fitness habits, and an overall lively lifestyle.
Suburban, which is a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, is known for its cutting-edge stroke program and trauma center, according to its website. Now, the not-for-profit, community-based hospital will also be known as the healthiest workplace in the Washington, DC area with healthy food options, a smoke-free campus and seminars on healthy living.
“It’s my belief that if you have healthy staff that feel good about themselves and feel good about their employer, then they’re going to give better care to our patients when they’re here,” says Dennis Parnell, Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “So for the benefit of our patients, we wanted to create an atmosphere where people felt good about themselves and feel good about the care they give.”
Parnell says Suburban tries to encourage its employees to eat healthy. The hospital recently re-did their salad bar and offers a wellness meal every day in the cafeteria.
“Have we taken out the soft drinks and the fryer out of the kitchen? No we haven’t. It’s hard to but we try to encourage people to eat healthy and we do what we can with the resources we have,” Parnell says. “It’s about taking little steps.”
Eating healthy and exercising regularly go hand-in-hand, so Suburban created the Healthy Destinations program, where employees set an exercise goal and then are entered into a drawing for a weekend getaway if they meet that goal.
Along with the program, employees were able to check their “important numbers”. “Once a week, employees could check their numbers. We would do free blood pressure and cholesterol checks so everyone could know their important numbers for their health," Parnell says.
Suburban is also a smoke-free campus. The hospital offers numerous products and services to help employees to quit smoking.
“It’s hard for people to quit because it is an addiction, so we offer free medication to help them quit – whether it’s the patch or a pill. We also have non-smoking classes that help people make the adjustment,” Parnell says.
The hospital focuses on not only body, but mind. “We have financial seminars to help people who are stressed with their finances and we have programs in place to help those who are placed in emergency financial situations,” Parnell says.
Suburban is more than pleased with their new title. “We don’t really look at this as a competitive thing but what we look at this as it shows we’re making progress in trying to help employees improve their lifestyles,” Parnell says. “If this is an indication of the progress we’ve made, then we’re very happy about that.”