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Community feature: Healthy Monday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Learn about how a NY hospital has drawn from multiple Monday Campaigns to create a comprehensive nurse wellness program featuring Healthy Mondays.
I love the Healthy Monday Campaign Program. I really think it’s brilliant. So the core idea, when all of these health behaviors come together, is this concept we call the Healthy Monday Reset. My name is Elena Ladas. I am the Sid and Helane Associate Professor for Global Integrative Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Probably about 10 or so years ago, we launched Meatless Monday in our outpatient pediatric oncology center. And it was really well-received by both the children and their families, as well as the staff members So when we were approached to launch a nurse wellness program, or even a clinician program, really the nurses are the discipline that they’re on the front lines of everything.
I would say it’s probably one of the most stressful disciplines in a medical setting and a great place to start. I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner. And my main focus is neural oncology, which includes any disease of the brain or spine. I really do enjoy the work I do. It’s very challenging and oftentimes very sad. But it’s really meaningful. I’m not sure that nurses experience different barriers than just what we read about in the paper or hear or ourselves experience. But working in pediatric oncology, they certainly carry emotional burden that I think is probably distinguishable to other disciplines.
I think that the Healthy Monday Campaign is an upbeat, optimistic concept of which the nurses can help manage their emotional stresses as well as their life barriers that they report on to adopt healthier lifestyles. Well, one way to sort of try to understand how we function is we’re meeting the needs of so many people. I’m meeting the needs of my colleagues. I’m meeting the needs of the child, the parents, then there’s the grandparents. And to be able to listen and respond appropriately to all these different demands is probably the biggest challenge. I’m Michelle Bombacie, a licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist. And I’m the Program Manager for Integrative Therapies Program up at Columbia University Medical Center.
My role with the Nurse Wellness Program is to disseminate the material to the nurses. The one thing I would say while I’ve been at Columbia for 15 years, our integrated therapies department has really expanded and grown tremendously. And that department is a very positive influence on the clinic. The accessibility is so important for the nurses because they’re so busy. It’s important that they can, while they’re sitting at their computer writing their notes or researching a medication, that they can easily access a way to help reduce their stress. When Healthy Monday first started for us at the Center, I think we were surprised that people were really paying attention and concerned about how we were taking care of ourselves.
So when we’ve worked with organizations to implement the Healthy Monday Campaigns, we start by understanding what their needs are. And some organizations will say, well, stress is the primary one. And we’d like a little bit of physical activities. Others will say that we really need to have a tobacco cessation program. So we start from the point of view of what are the health needs. And then we have so many resources for each of these campaigns. What we do is we pull together a program, a customized program. I work very closely with the Mondays Campaign. Initially, for Phase 1, they provided all of the information.
And following the feedback that we received from Phase 1, I worked with the staff to develop material that the nurses requested. I would send out the email blast on Monday mornings. And all the nurses would share and discuss the topic. I also would write on a whiteboard in the work room positive intentions and the schedule for the mini-experiential workshop classes that we were going to provide weekly. Having Michelle come into the workroom to say, how’s everybody feeling? How are you doing this morning? Was everybody able to open the link? Did you have any difficulty? What do you think about it?
So, it’s not just the email and the information that’s coming to us, but it’s Michelle including all of us in just the concept of being concerned about ourselves. Some of the specific components of the Nurse Wellness Program that make it unique are dance movement, Meatless Mondays, Mile Mondays, yoga, aromatherapy, acupressure, self massage, Tibetan healing sound. We have it all. For me personally, I don’t sleep very well. So the meditation and breathing, I think, has had the greatest impact on my life. Currently we are looking at qualitative measures. And I think what was resoundingly apparent in our first pilot was that Monday is an easy concept for people to adopt. We’ve had a great turnout, especially in the movement classes.
The nurses really love engaging in activity other than their sedentary day at the computer or running around the hospital. It’s a great diversion for them. They get to laugh. They have fun. For the Nurse Wellness Program, we would like to expand it throughout the Children’s Hospital of New York, as well as Milstein Hospital. We would also like to expand. We have several community based health centers. I think that would be a real benefit to expand the Nurse’s Program throughout those centers.

The Healthy Monday Nurse Wellness Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital uses tools from several different Monday Campaigns to promote wellness among their nurses.

Elena Ladas, PhD, recognizes that nursing is a profession that can carry a “high emotional burden” on top of the day-to-day stress that nurses face. Michelle Bombacie, program manager for the integrative therapies program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, is dedicated to making nurses’ lives easier through the Healthy Monday program.

The program initially began as a Meatless Monday campaign, and to launch, Bombacie received all of the materials from The Monday Campaigns. After assessing the needs of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital nurses, however, they began to craft a wellness program specifically tailored to their desire to reduce stress and get more exercise.

Having an accessible program that fit neatly into their daily life was important to nurses, given their busy and demanding schedules. For example, nurses may find stress reduction resources while on their computers completing patients’ charts. These specific nurses had an interest in movement, so their Healthy Monday program includes dance movement and yoga. Bombacie is a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist, and uses her knowledge on aromatherapy, acupressure, and self-massage to help nurses manage stress. Finally, by simply writing positive intentions in the nurses’ workroom and checking in with them throughout the week, Bombacie has made it clear to the nurses that she cares about their self-care and wellbeing.

Michelle Bombacie leads NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital nurses in a dance movement class.Michelle Bombacie leads New York Presbyterian Hospital nurses in a dance movement class. Sourced with permission: The Monday Campaigns

The Healthy Monday Nurse Wellness Program is one example of how a thoughtful needs assessment can lead to a comprehensive, tailored, and effective program for a specific population. By determining participants’ needs, evaluating program effectiveness, and engaging directly with participants, those planning the Healthy Monday Nurse Wellness Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital were able to promote nurses’ health in an accessible and beneficial way.

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The Monday Campaigns: Lessons in Public Health Promotion

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