An Appointment With: Thomas Thornton SVP and Executive Director, Northwell Ventures
When someone thinks of Northwell Health, one of the first words that comes to mind is innovation. Northwell Ventures, a for-profit department focusing on new corporate ventures, is a big driver of the new technology and services that help maintain that reputation. Whether it’s a curtain that helps stop the spread of infection efficiently or UV light technology that helps disinfect hospitals, Northwell Ventures is at the forefront of progressive transformation in the industry. As SVP and executive director of Northwell Ventures, Tom Thornton is responsible for identifying and fostering these innovative ideas that enhance the growth of the health system’s clinical and nonclinical enterprises. We sat down with Tom to discuss the latest in Northwell Ventures.
What’s the mission and vision for Northwell Ventures and how has this department grown over the past few years?
Northwell Ventures was launched four years ago in an effort to advance medical technology by investing in innovative ideas and services across healthcare. Our mission is to generate attractive returns, build profitable companies that drive quality health outcomes, increase operating efficiency, lower the overall costs of healthcare, and improve the patient experience.
It’s an exciting time for Ventures as so much in health care is changing to engage patients and improve patient experience with digital tools. As the department grows, it’s helping improve efficiency, care, and patient engagement through health care business services. Recently, we’ve begun commercializing these services and products to improve quality of care not only within Northwell but across the nation.
What are some upcoming technologies or areas that you are looking at that you believe are truly transformative?
There are many areas that are seeing transformation as technology advances. Some of these key areas are virtual care, wearables, healthcare business services, AI, healthcare information technology, and clinical trials. Innovation in these area are helping to improve health care with world-class products and capabilities. And patients are seeing the outcome from healthcare IT creating applications that allow them to easily access efficient scheduling systems from home, to virtual care giving them access to top physicians across the system.
How do you work with Northwell physicians and administrators to redefine patient care?
At Northwell we know that our employees are our most valuable resource to help solve the challenging problems in health care. This year we hosted our 2ndannualNorthwell Health Innovation Challengewhere employees can pitch new technologies to a panel, ”shark tank” style. The winning teams are awarded up to $500,000 in funding from Northwell Ventures to help turn these ideas into reality as they continue to help Northwell keep our reputation as one of the most innovative health system in the country.
Additionally, we know that our staff is our best asset in terms of deciding which investments are right for Northwell. We meet directly with clinicians and staff to help decide where to invest and test new innovations for improvement and efficiency. And innovation is in every corner of our health system – one of our environmental services supervisors helped develop anew curtain that helps reduce the spread of infection. This curtain is now being used in hospitals across the country.
Can you highlight a recent success story with one of your portfolio companies or partnerships?
Our first investmentAviziais the perfect example of a success story with Ventures. Avizia allows healthcare organizations to have access to system-wide telehealth efficiently and cost-effectively. Northwell used our own telehealth team and physicians to test and perfect this system throughout our investment.
Can you speak to any non-traditional partnerships or strategic relationships that have developed and why?
First and foremost, we provide care. The exciting part about being with Northwell is that the definition of care is ever-changing. We’re continually redeveloping health care by partnering with entrepreneurs, investors and now entire countries. Through Ventures we have created partnerships with international governments to help improve quality of care outside of the United States. Our perpetual need to empower the best and the brightest has allowed us to develop products and services that further enhance care and patient experience on a global scale.
Do you have any fun summer plans?
I would love to wake my wife and kids to the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater to see some concerts. I’m also a big sailor and am excited to spend some time out on the water.
Administrative Manager and Wellness Liaison Janet Schaetzle has been with Northwell Health for 12 years managing Northwell Health Physician Partners, Neurosurgery and Spine at Great Neck and Lynbrook. But don’t think she’s managing from afar as Janet’s on the floor with her staff and she doesn’t want to leave. In order to keep her staff in top shape, wellness is a major focus. For Janet, Northwell’s culture and wellness is connected to many aspects of her life — inside her office and outside in her community.
Inside the office, Janet’s staff members focus on wellness through healthy lunches and Zumba. Janet’s staff also participated in the Walk To Dublin. They embraced their love of competition and formed a team. “We monitored each other and we still do weekly step-offs and weekend rumbles. I’ve met people and made friends in other departments through the wellness challenges,” says Janet.
That emphasis on wellness and the impact of Northwell’s culture extends from her office doors out into her community. Janet is a part of the Northwell Life Facebook group that connects employees throughout Northwell Health. From Suffolk County, to Westchester, to New York City, employees are using social media to work together on community service projects in their spare time. For example, Janet’s office donates to Meals on Wheels with four other departments. In addition, the staff will take time on a weekend to serve families at the Ronald McDonald house and share a day creating a dinner for over 80 people every year for the past 3 years. “Northwell does so much with communities to raise money for brain aneurysms, breast cancer, and more problems that affect my patients. There’s a sense that you belong to an organization that really does care,” she adds.
Janet has personally benefited from Northwell Health’s focus on employee wellness. And that begins with leadership. “Northwell brings people in from the wellness department and the EAP works with us in dealing with stress, sleep, and staying energized,” says Janet. “The staff is so into it and I’ve joined a gym since this wellness program started.” That dedication to wellness includes providing resources to help employees grow professionally. “We have so many opportunities to advance. Through the Center for Learning Innovations (CLI), we can take classes, and Northwell Health will help pay for you to continue your education.” From Dealing with Stress Management to Emotional Intelligence for Leaders to Business Writing and Computer courses, Northwell Health provides employees with classes that help them advance and nurture their professional careers.
The emphasis of community has allowed Janet to see her staff at Northwell Health as family. Many of them have been working with her for 5-10 years, with one staff member who has been with her for 23! Now, Janet’s actual family has joined her Northwell Health family. Janet’s son Josef works for LIJ Hospital. “I am so proud of his contributions that he has given in only his first year with Northwell. At Northwell Health, you’re recognized for doing great things. There really is a culture of care here and shows that we are all Made for This.”
We’re excited to introduce our Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP) initiative at Northwell Health! With the appointment of a new leadership team, innovative structural changes, and an updated approach that joins Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, we’re excited to share the changes that will bring ACP’s to the next level of employee engagement and patient care. Those new changes start with our leadership, Assistant Vice Presidents Jason McGrade, PA and Jennifer Laffey, NP.
The exciting new ACP initiative includes an updated strategy and structure that brings NPs and PAs together. “Both Jason and I came from the same arena where NPs and PAs work together and there was no differentiation as we all shared the goal of providing quality care,” Jennifer explained. Jason elaborated, “We really are aligned in our goal to recruit and develop the talent and qualities of Advanced Clinical Providers. Understanding their individual passion, drive, quality, and acumen.” Senior leadership has appointed ACP physician leaders to each service line to help support and foster growth and alignment amongst our NPs and PAs.
We couldn’t have better individuals leading this change! After graduating as valedictorian from PA school, Jason spent ten years at Lenox Hill Hospital before becoming Chief PA at Manhasset in 2011, where he eventually became Director of his service line. After Jason started his MBA in 2017, he knew he wanted to become involved in creating the design architecture for an ACP community. He’ll get that opportunity in his new role as Assistant Vice President for the ACP’s.
Jennifer started in health care as an ICU nurse before she got her Master’s degree, after which she moved to North Shore University Hospital. There, she found many opportunities to develop her career such as preceptorship, mentorship, leadership and program development. Before moving to Health Solutions where she assumed a leadership position. Jennifer helped develop a team of four ACPs into a multi-disciplinary team of 50 spanning Long Island and began teaching for the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies NP program. Now, she’s the NP, Assistant Vice President.
When it comes to joining our team of ACPs, there couldn’t be a better time than now!
“This is a great time for growth and opportunity. We are the most supported we’ve ever been and we’re continuing to develop and grow our programs and our staff,” Jennifer said. With a system as vast as Northwell Health, ACPs can achieve career advancement, explore different areas of expertise, work on exciting projects, and enjoy a true work/life balance.
Both Jason and Jennifer see the new ACP strategy as a continuation of Northwell Health’s commitment to the future of health care. “Health care is evolving and health care delivery, access to patient care, and access to service has changed over the years and certainly it’s been identified that PAs and NPs are the best vectors of that high-quality health care delivery,” Jason said. Both professions have experienced tremendous growth with the support from Northwell Health. According to Jennifer, ACP’s are answering a need in the health care community, “The real goal is elevation within the roles and that impacts overall health care delivery. Especially as health care changes and the landscape changes, we fill the gap to deliver the highest quality of care.”
The new ACP vision and initiatives are an exciting new addition to Northwell Health and will have support from the largest health system in New York State (that’s us!). Creating an innovative program like this is a challenge that we’re Made for. Jennifer puts it best, “We are a leader in providing transformational care and management to patients. There are a lot of opportunities to advance.”
Are you Made for redefining how we deliver care? Check back soon for some more exciting announcements about our new ACP initiative.
A Pulse Check on Healthcare Careers: Q&A with our SVP & Chief People Officer Joseph Moscola
For the first time in history, healthcare was the largest source of U.S. jobs for the last quarter in 2017. With job opportunities in healthcare surpassing both retail and manufacturing, there’s never been a better time to start your career with Northwell. We checked in with our SVP and Chief People Officer Joseph Moscola to see how and where Northwell’s careers are booming amidst the growing demand across the industry.
Careers: With unemployment at 4.1%, Northwell Health is still hiring over 200 people each week ranging from clerical to clinical administrative. Why does Northwell’s career opportunity continue to be so prevalent?
Joseph Moscola: I think we are seeing two factors at play. The number of jobs in healthcare is growing, a trend that has continued for the past couple of years and will continue in years to come. As the Baby Boomers reach their senior years and the population ages, there are going to be more and more opportunities in healthcare. The second factor is the growing brand of Northwell as well as our growing reputation as an employer of choice. In 2018, we were named one of Fortune’s Best Places to Work in Health Care and BioPharma.
C: In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that healthcare added 22,000 jobs and that the biggest gain was in ambulatory health care services. At Northwell, our ambulatory care is growing. Why does ambulatory continue to be a top need, what positions are we looking to hire for and how is it impacting care and careers in our communities?
JM: Care continues to shift out of the hospital and into the ambulatory space. This is a result of better technology, less invasive treatment options available to patients and healthcare plan incentives. We’re always looking for RNs, Revenue Cycle roles, Medical Office Assistants and Advanced Clinical Providers (ACPs). We’re able to take a more holistic approach to the patient and bring the highest quality of care to our communities, including our own team members. It also opens up more opportunities for different careers within the community.
C: What are some other growing areas at Northwell that candidates should watch out for and why?
JM: We continue to see growing opportunities for ACPs, RNs, home health aides and roles in perioperative care. As care continues to transition from the hospital to ambulatory facilities and to the home, we will continue to see a growth in support service type roles. Also, with advancements in technology and a focus on finding data driven solutions, roles in healthcare IT will be more in demand. There will be more and more of a need for analysts, data scientists, software engineers and computer programmers.
C: For students looking to go into healthcare sector, what are the jobs you recommend they consider?
JM: There are some really great opportunities to start your career in healthcare before you’ve earned your college degree. If you are looking to enter the workforce sooner, you can begin with a “Middle Skills” position, including specialty technicians such as EEG, EKG, surgical techs, sterile processing techs, radiology techs and careers as medical assistants and phlebotomists, etc. There are many benefits to starting your career in one of these high-demand jobs and opportunities for advancement and different career paths you can take from initial hire.
C: How does Northwell retain employees and allow them to grow within the health system?
JM: We retain our team members and encourage their growth by creating a positive and rewarding work environment where team members are empowered to challenge the status quo. This is not a normal 9 to 5. Our team members are flexible, hardworking and not afraid to push boundaries to go the extra mile for our colleagues, our patients and their families. This is a calling and our team members truly feel that when they are at Northwell.
C: One piece of advice for anyone looking to go into a healthcare career.
JM: Healthcare is the one industry where all types of professions have the common goal of caring for people, patients and communities. Whatever you want to do, whatever path you choose to take, can be done in healthcare. Most importantly follow your passion!
Are you Made for a career at Northwell? Explore current job opportunities across our healthcare system.
Students dive deep into health care administration in unique internship
Summer’s nearly here and that means it’s time for our Healthcare Management Program (HMP) Interns to arrive. Over the course of the next 8 weeks, 24 talented college juniors will work with Northwell Health’s professionals to gain invaluable skills to advance their careers.
With this year’s program received more than 900 applicants from across the country, only 24 of the nation’s most promising students were selected for the program. These ambitious juniors traveled from schools as far as Stanford University to as close as Hofstra University. Other students came from universities like Georgetown, UVA, Cornell, Colgate, Rochester, and UPenn to intern at our 18 participating sites. These locations offer diverse experience in tertiary hospitals, community hospitals, specialty hospitals and service lines across Long Island, Queens, NYC, Staten Island and Westchester.
Interns competed in team building challenges during orientation. Here’s our winning team celebrating their victory!
This isn’t your typical internship. Our interns will be pushed to fully immerse themselves in hospital operations. Nowhere else in healthcare will interns have the unique opportunity to work with senior leadership and finish projects that will help build efficiency for years to come. Students will learn to take initiative, how to work independently, and how to navigate the complexities of a changing health care landscape — no coffee orders and basic filing here!
Outside of their internship, the HMP interns will also receive key networking opportunities to fill their summer with powerful opportunities. Between events like informative lunch and learns to our Healthcare Management Program Alumni dinner, interns will grow their skillset on and off site. Interns are even scheduled to take on New York City as a whole in an exciting team building day trip!
And their unique Northwell Health experience doesn’t have to end with the summer. Interns from the Healthcare Management Program are the perfect candidates for its sister program, our Management Associate Program (MAP). MAP gives new post-graduates the full experience of healthcare management, with some HMP interns ending the the summer knowing they will have a full-time job after graduating. This highly competitive two year program helps talented individuals forge an early path into healthcare management and develops them into effective leaders. Last year, 12 HMP interns were hired into full-time MAP positions!
One summer can help set these ambitious interns up for long-term success. Take it from former HMP intern and current Sr Associate in Financial & Operations Management at North Shore University Hospital, Kate Van Der Sloot , “HMP provided me the technical skills, mentorship, and opportunities for professional development that I have always dreamed of having. By arming me with these resources and support early in my career, Northwell Health has given me the tools and path to become a future leader in healthcare.”
We checked in with some of our interns after their first week. Check out their first impressions below!
“I’ve learned so much in a few days and there’s still so much I don’t know, which is both humbling and inspiring”
Hee Joo KoStanford University
“I believe on of the most profound first impressions I have had in my first week — as someone who used to want to be a physician — is the positive impact on health care that anyone within the system can make. Being able to assist with training materials and the updates to safety materials it has been extremely interesting to see how the Organizational Development office at Phelps Hospital is able to contribute so much to the hospital, and thus patient care!”
Ken KnappGeorgetown University
“I can’t believe the first week is over! It’s been very rewarding. Not only have I enjoyed working in Health Solutions at the Clinical Call Center, but I’ve already seen how my work has been put to use. Something I was working on made its way into a presentation for an important meeting.”
Ryan OttBucknell University
“My first impressions of the program are that everyone has been very welcoming and excited for me to start helping them with projects. I hope to take part in some exciting projects throughout the summer and learn a lot about healthcare.”
Jonathan LeitmanCornell University
“I was both nervous and excited to start as an HMP intern at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. I never could have imagined that at 9:00 AM on my first day, I would be standing in a circle with nurse managers, directors, and other hospital staff for an OR meeting about first case start times. By the end of the first week, I have already been able to meet many incredible people from different teams throughout the hospital, observe endoscopic procedures, and have direct patient interaction. It has been a whirlwind, but I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the summer.”
Kaley O’ConnorBrown University
“Throughout my first week of working for the Emergency Medicine Service Line, I was exposed to the unique combination of compassion, leadership, and analytics that the entire team demonstrates. I have already seen the ways in which every finance and operations project is driven by the goals of improving the patient experience and the quality of care. I am looking forward to continuing to learn from my mentors and begin my career as a health administrator through the Northwell Healthcare Management Program.”
Hannah FriedmanCornell University
“The HMP internship has so far been a nice glimpse into the field of healthcare management. I’ve enjoyed seeing what day-to-day work is like at Monter Cancer Center.”
Bringing families together through the power of compassion
Sometimes, the most heartbreaking situations grant the greatest opportunity for us to provide genuine compassionate care. This was the case recently at North Shore University Hospital where care providers across several units and two hospitals worked together to help a father and daughter reunite as a family for one last time.
A fifteen-year-old girl came into the Emergency Department at North Shore with asthma exacerbation. Due to the circumstances that surrounded her condition, she needed to be transferred to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. However, while she was still in the ED, her care providers learned that her father was a patient at that same hospital with a terminal condition.
Not knowing how much time he had left, the patient wanted to be able to visit her father before her transfer. It took teamwork from staff at both hospitals to act quickly in order to make one girl’s wish a reality.
At Northwell Health, being Truly Compassionate is more than just a figure of speech or a slogan on a wall. It is an everyday commitment. The ED Attending, RN staff and leaders at North Shore and an RN from Cohen Children’s work together to escort the girl – with telemetry monitoring and oxygen in place – to her father’s room. There the staff remained with them to maintain her care so the patient could visit her father for two hours.
Nurses proved Northwell’s values with their dedicated care, going above and beyond by remaining well past the end of their shifts to ensure a daughter shared precious time with her father. The hospital teams worked as one to bring their patients comfort and assurance during life’s most difficult times.
It was an emotional scene, and one that reminded care providers why they went into their fields in the first place. “This is an event that will stick with many of us for a long time to come,” said Marissa E. Tang, BSN, RN at North Shore University Hospital, “I personally know I will be remembering and speaking of this event myself.”
Following her time with her father, the patient was transferred to Cohen Children’s to receive the care she needed. The patient and her family showed immense gratitude that thanks to the teamwork and compassion from both staffs, a girl was able to spend time with her father who passed away the next day.
Her nurses consider it a privilege to have been able to contribute to their important final visit. Jessica Jardin, RN, BSN, CEN, and Assistant Nurse Manager at the Department of Emergency Medicine, North Shore University Hospital will never forget that day, “I know this situation resonated with my colleagues and myself, and in such a case there is no way we would have denied these two the opportunity to have such precious little time together. The collaborative team effort worked because we all wanted to see the best possible outcome of a painful situation for our patient and her family.”
For years, she’s collected shoes and drawn sneaker designs that she posts on her wall at work. Last year, at Levitt Pediatric’s Christmas gift exchange, she received a sneaker coloring book from one of the nurse practitioners.
“I’ve always dreamed of designing them,” says Gabrielle Serrano, Northwell Health Administrative Supervisor, “I’ve drawn and colored them and posted pictures around my desk.”
Another one of her passions? New York City. It was the first city her grandmother ever traveled to and she never left. Gabrielle loves the people that make up New York City and the melting pot of diversity that comes with that. “Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn, uptown, downtown,” explains Gabrielle, “You can literally travel all over the world without leaving New York.”
Gabrielle is also a street photographer, a homeless advocate, and an artist. She is Truly Innovative which is one of Northwell’s core values and loves finding, capturing and communicating the diversity and dynamic spirit of New York’s unique people.
Recently, all of her passions came together as she entered a contest to design a new sneaker for Nike. The Nike On Air Shoe Competition was the chance for Gabrielle to bring together her many interests so that she could communicate with the world who she really is. This is how the Air Max 98 “La Mezcla” was born.
Gabrielle’s goal was to bring all the diversity of New York City, the character of its people, its melting pot heritage and infuse it into her sneaker design. “I wanted to showcase all the different types of skin tones of different types of people,” says Gabrielle, “But I wanted to make sure I represented it the right way – not just to show my city, but to show myself.”
Gabrielle not only entered the contest… she was one of six winners representing countries from around the world!
As an Office Associate in one of Northwell Health’s Pediatric Practices, Gabrielle’s many talents and interests make her an even more valuable employee. That’s why Northwell Health is so proud to support Gabrielle’s interests away from work. Support that helped push Gabrielle closer to her dream, “Northwell sent an email to all employees and posted on social media and everyone shared. People I didn’t even know voted for me.”
Northwell truly believes that employees are much more than just their professional abilities. We are better together when we are Truly Ourselves. “It’s awesome to work for a company that is so supportive of me,” says Gabrielle, “both at work and in my personal passions.”
If you’d like to be part of an organization that values diversity and empowers and inspires people to express their individuality to the fullest, take a look at Northwell Health careers.
Under the bold and delicious vision of Northwell Health’s VP of System Food Services Corporate Michelin Chef, Bruno Tison, the recipe for hospital food as you once knew it has changed. Michelin Chef Tison, along with other award-winning Michelin chefs like Andrew Cain, is helping Northwell Health redefine the culinary experience for patients, their families, and Northwell employees.
“I want to help cook better food for people who really need it,” says Chef Tison, “Northwell Health is a pioneer for redefining hospital food for 23 hospitals.”
A recipe for culinary success.
A native of northern France, Chef Bruno Tison began his culinary education at Belgium’s prestigious Institut Technique Des Metiers De L’Alimentation, where he graduated with highest honors and was awarded first prize for excellence in culinary achievement. His more than 30 years of experience includes serving as Executive Chef of the legendary Plaza Hotel in New York City. Chef Tison’s nouvelle cuisine has earned critical acclaim. Most recently, his leadership enabled the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa in California to receive the celebrated Michelin Star recognition for three consecutive years.
Chef Andrew Cain started working under an executive chef at the age of 15, received a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Restaurant Management and went to work at the Fairmont with Chef Tison 10 years ago. They’ve made a great team ever since. This relationship is now helping to dramatically elevate Northwell Health’s food experience.
The two believe that crafting delicious meals shouldn’t change by location. “Whether it’s a patient in a bed, or a person in the restaurant,” says Chef Cain, “when it comes to cooking great food, you truly have to care about it.”
Redefining the culinary experience.
Having reached the pinnacle of the culinary profession, Chefs Tison and Cain were looking for a new challenge and the opportunity to bring the highest level of culinary expression not just to people who could “afford it” but to people who truly needed it, people whose lives could be changed by a world-class food experience.
That’s why Chef Tison joined Northwell Health and later brought Chef Cain onboard, with Chef Tison stating, “I came to Northwell because they are very serious about making this shift in the healthcare food industry happen.”
Chef Tison has championed a number of important initiatives for Northwell’s culinary efforts:
Bring outstanding talent from the outside and retrain existing chefs.
Having worked with Chef Tison for 10+ years, Chef Andrew Cain shared his passion for elevating the food experience for people who genuinely need it. With a background in Four- and Five-Star restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Chef Cain is helping Chef Tison bring a Michelin-inspired sensibility to Northwell Health. Northwell is also partnering with the Culinary Institute of America to attract the next generation of great chefs.
Knowing that Northwell is a place known for the most innovative clinical technology, Chef Tison is bringing this same commitment to modernizing the food service area.
Higher quality food.
This includes fresh, locally-sourced food instead of frozen, replacing instant coffee with fresh coffee, getting rid of candies/sugar and eliminating processed food.
Chef Tison’s ultimate goal is to deliver restaurant-quality food to patients, families and staff. “It’s a new frontier,” says Chef Tison, “and that’s exciting for new and tenured chefs alike.” He even has an eye on applying for inclusion in the Michelin Guide!
Employee Spotlight: Melinda Nasti on wellness and caring for the caregivers
Meet Program Manager for Chaplaincy Operations and Manager of Wellness Melinda Nasti. She’s been with Northwell Health for 10 years and her work has led to wellness becoming an important part of our employees’ daily lives. We talked to her about her journey, her motivation, and the simple steps we can take to improve our own mental health.
Q: Tell us about your role and how Northwell has helped you in your career journey:
Melinda: When I came to Northwell Health to train as a Chaplain, I already had a career in wellness as a Reiki Practitioner. As a Chaplain I realized that if you could support staff wellness you would not only be caring for them, you would also be improving their patients’ care. I began to offer Reiki and Guided Imagery to staff. Now I work with both the Chaplaincy and Wellness teams. As Chaplains we support the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our patients, family and staff.
Q: What should people know about the work you’re doing to improve employee wellness?
Melinda: My wellness sessions include Reiki, Guided Imagery, Aromatherapy and Community Building. Reiki is hands-on natural energy healing. Both Reiki and Guided Imagery bring about a peaceful, deep state of relaxation, stress reduction and symptom relief.
I also do team community building if there’s been a staff death, multiple patient deaths in a short period of time, a conflict within a team, or simply to support staff wellbeing. Components of the retreat may include Reiki, Guided Imagery, Trust Walks, rituals and time for sharing. Teams may reconnect to why they came to work in health care and hear a little bit of each other’s stories in a safe space.
I try to transform the workspace into something more tranquil for the workshops – a serenity room. I layer it with aromatherapy, candles and soothing music. Sometimes staffs think they’re coming into a meeting and when they see the space, they immediately begin to relax.
Q: What kinds of opportunities are available at Northwell that you’ve found helpful?
Melinda: Northwell is very passionate about supporting employee wellbeing. Employee Wellness offers so many opportunities including Healthy Choices in the cafeterias, farmers markets, teaching kitchens, online self-help modules, and creating walking trails and workshops including everything from improving sleep to aging gracefully. And of course there is our system-wide walking challenge the “Walk to Dublin!”
Q: Why is wellness important to you?
Melinda: As a Chaplain, I’ve been on the front lines and seen how challenging the work is. By nature, people in health care are caregivers. They take care of everyone else but sometimes the self-care piece is lacking.
I was working with the night shift when a patient on a cancer floor walked by with his IV pole. He asked who I was and I said, “I am Chaplain Melinda.” He said “YOU’RE Melinda? I’d like to thank you. I don’t know what you did with the staff tonight, but whatever it was, I got the benefit.” In all the years I’ve been doing this that was the most rewarding moment I’ve ever had. It was evidence that when we take care of ourselves that care is passed on to our patients.
Q: What advice would you give people to improve their wellness?
Melinda: I’m a really big believer in the small things. There are some very simple breathing techniques: Stop, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few moments.
If you cannot leave the workplace for lunch, swap desks with someone so that neither of you can reach your phones. Eat intentionally and pay attention to your food. Swap out just one unhealthy food for a healthy one. Lower the lights for a few minutes or shut the computer screen to give your eyes a break. Go outside and feel the sunshine on your face. Take a moment to think about everything you are accomplishing rather than focus on your do to list. Close your eyes and think about something or someone you are grateful for. These are small things that will improve your overall wellness.
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