Health care professionals are experts when it comes to healing the human body, yet they often neglect to practice the very mantra they preach.
The staggering reality is that three of the four states where Mercy serves rank in the top nine nationwide for highest adult obesity rates. According to the most recent report by Center for Disease Control (CDC), Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30 percent with Kansas fairing only slightly better.
So, with that in mind, St. Joseph’s Mercy in Hot Springs is promoting stronger, healthier lifestyles for its co-workers through an initiative known as “Healthification.” The plan supports a well-balanced life, which includes nutrition, physical activity, emotional and spiritual well-being, and smoking cessation.
As a first step, Mercy is partnering with NuVal, a nutritional scoring system, to help co-workers and customers make informed decisions. Mercy co-workers, patients and families will be able to utilize the NuVal scoring system to determine the nutritional value of food purchased in cafeterias throughout Mercy.
In addition, St. Joseph’s Mercy has opened a healthy restaurant called the Tea Leaf Grill, located on the Mercy South Campus (formerly HealthPark). It features healthy choices and is open during breakfast and lunch hours.
Tea Leaf Grill features breakfast omelets with healthier side ingredients like turkey sausage and turkey bacon as well as vegetables and fruits. There’s also wheat pancakes. At lunch, turkey and veggie burgers are on the menu as well as a daily lunch special when our chefs will create unique and varied items. Each special comes with a main entrée, a side and a piece of fruit.
On Thursday, February, 24, 2011, at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center, cardiologist Dr. Oyidie Igbokidi and the Healthifcation team held a healthy-cooking demonstration featuring recipes from Tea Leaf Grill.
“Healthification is the mindful pursuit of well-being and Mercy is about making it easier for our co-workers and the people we serve every day to make these good decisions,” said Lance Luria, MD, Mercy’s health and wellness vice president and medical director. “What we know is that by making simple choices, we can dramatically affect our overall health. If we want to optimize the value and joy we get out of life, we must eat for life, move for life, breathe for life, and be emotionally and spiritually balanced for life, as our health and wellness truly depends on it.”
The NuVal scores will begin to show up throughout the year in Mercy’s cafeteria. It was developed by an independent team of nutrition and medical experts affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine. The team worked for two years and put in place a patent-pending algorithm which converts complex nutritional information into a single, easy-to-use score.
More than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors go into the score. The nutritional value of a food is ranked on a scale from 1 to 100: the higher the score, the more nutritious. In some cases, the findings can be surprising: a bowl of Cheerios has a higher nutritional value than some Kashi; and frozen green beans, canned no-salt green beans and fresh green beans have the same score of 100.
The Healthification program began late last year when co-workers participated in the Spa City 5k/10k in Hot Springs. St. Joseph’s Mercy President Tim Johnsen even took it a step further – or quite a few steps further – when he participated in the Chicago Marathon.
Mercy co-workers will continue to participate in various Healthification programs throughout the year. One is called Move for Life and encourages all sorts of physical activity – from the ordinary such as house cleaning and gardening, to the exemplary, such as walking, jogging or weight lifting. Co-workers have access to an activity-tracker where they can record their progress and become eligible for prizes.