Northern Maine Medical Center takes global fitness challenge

FORT KENT, Maine — As Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) continues to make changes to introduce more healthy choices and opportunities in the workplace, NMMC employees are embracing the lifestyle changes. In May of this year, 140 employees embarked on a 100-day journey to healthier living.

Peter Sirois, NMMC president and CEO, said, “It is of paramount importance to us for our employees to be engaged in the workplace. Not only is providing opportunities for our employees the right thing to do; we know that the results positively impact their quality of life and sense of well-being.”  

The benefit was offered to employees through a company which provides a breadth of solutions to maximize employee engagement and performance initiatives and drives measurable and positive outcomes which positively impact employees and the organization.

The company, Virgin Pulse –Global Challenge, provided employees with a pre-program health assessment, providing individuals with the education and motivation needed to transform health. The program also incorporated online intervention options and prevention education, individualized for each participant.  

According to Robin Damboise, Director of Human Resources, the engagement levels of the employees who chose to participate in the health benefit was overwhelming. The number of employees who joined the program was double the number that had been anticipated when it was first launched. With 20 teams of seven members each, the 100-day program kicked off in May. To maintain the momentum throughout the nearly four-month journey, milestones of virtual locations reached by participants were celebrated along the way.

NMMC’s teams were amongst 44,747 teams participating in the same challenge worldwide. NMMC’s winning team, Heals on Wheels, was in 2520th place on the world stage of participants, logging a total distance of nearly 5,000 miles.  Top stepper Tina Roy logged in nearly three million steps over the challenge, in one day logging more than 61,000 steps. Together, the 20 teams combined logged 70,000 miles.

Trisha Caron, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department and captain of Heals on Wheels, decided early in the program to set a challenge for her 12-year-old son, Oliver, to participate as well. Caron said she was dreading the end of the school year when she anticipated she would have to constantly monitor the amount of time her son spent using electronic devices throughout the summer.  

“Initially, I took all screens and electronics away for the summer,” she said. “He asked me if there was any way he could earn his electronics and screens back. So I came up with this: he would have to reach a 10,000-step goal per day before he would be allowed to use screens and electronics, and he would have to end his day with at least 12,500 steps total for the day.” 

She said Oliver grumbled about it at first but not one day passed that he did not reach his step goals. She said an unanticipated bonus in all of this is that her son walks with her often and they are spending more time together.

“This has been one of the best parenting decisions I have ever made,” she said, adding her son is now fit, happier and more confident.  He has incorporated the physical activity into his daily life and has begun setting his own goals for staying active.  

The challenge concluded with a celebration of the accomplishments of all participants and recognition of the top three teams.

Damboise said, “Many of our employees took the Challenge very seriously. The teams provided the competition, which drove many employees to adopt better sleeping and eating habits and incorporated some form of physical activity which, for many, led to weight loss and a greater sense of well-being.”

She also said it was a big commitment for employees to meet the daily requirements which included daily reporting of physical activity. Plans are underway to challenge employees again next Spring. To keep the momentum steady, the Employee Activity Committee is planning winter events such as skiing and snowshoeing to support employees in continuing to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

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