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A recess from work

Author: By Kayley Mendenhall, 7/28/2014 12:00:00 PM

When Nicole Rodrigues gets an instant message with a wellness challenge – like take five sips of water, or stand up and stretch – the charge auditor for St. Charles Health System said she feels like she’s hit the restart button on her day.

“It will take just a minute to take five sips of water and it makes your day go so much better,” Rodrigues said.

The instant messages are part of an initiative the Revenue Integrity team has taken on through Healthy Lives – St. Charles’ health and wellness program. In addition to reminding each other about healthy habits, twice a day the group, led by Jess Rude, takes a 10-minute recess to exercise away from their computers. They go outside, walk up and down steps, do calisthenics and just generally spend time moving.

Rodrigues says that participation in Healthy Lives helped her drop her cholesterol by 30 points in the past year and Bob Johnson, chargemaster coordinator, said he’s lost 10 pounds in two months. Amy Sandrin and Jeri LaPoint, who are also members of the team, agreed that the program simply helps them feel better and improves their concentration throughout the day.

“Exercise science was my first major,” Rude, a charge master specialist, said. “I am an athlete, so I try to take the exercises I do on a daily basis and modify them for our team and our environment.”

The group started doing 10-minute recesses after Amy Chadwick, a Healthy Lives nurse health coach, approached them about the idea. Chadwick visited the team and led a few initial recesses before Rude took over organizing and inspiring the group.

“We set this up as a train-the-trainer type of program, where the nurse health coach comes in and provides the initial education and then a member of the department takes over the daily recesses,” Chadwick said. “Departments can customize the program to fit their needs.”

Rude said she often makes modifications to the exercises based on her co-workers attire for the day. Her team members bring walking shoes to work that they can wear during their recess times and most of the exercises – like squats, arm raises and core work – can be done in work clothes.

Not only has the work recess program helped improve the health of the team, Rude said simply by being outside and away from their computers for a few minutes they have had a chance to learn more about each other’s lives and have bonded with caregivers from other teams as well.

To learn more about Healthy Lives, which is now available to businesses throughout Central Oregon, call 541-706-5950. All St. Charles teams interested in participating in the work recess program are encouraged to contact Healthy Lives.