Staff from the Scarborough Hospital accept the 2013 Gold Quality Healthcare Workplace Award. In the front row are human resources business partner Fay Calliste, left, and recognition and wellness coordinator Lori Irvine. In the back row, left to right , are patient care director Nurallah Rahim, human resources business partner Shirley Ward, vice president Rhonda Lewis, and director of human resources Karen Dobbie.

Scarborough Hospital wins gold

Awarded for being a top-quality workplace

Everyone knows the key to a successful workplace is happy staff, but not every employer is an award-winner.

On Nov. 5, the Scarborough Hospital received a Gold 2013 Quality Healthcare Workplace Award from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care after an expert panel reviewed each health centre’s efforts to enhance employee and organizational health.

According to Rhonda Lewis, vice-president of human resources and patient relations, the dedication to continuous improvement has had a positive impact on staff.

“It showcases how each and every one of our employees is living the mission, vision and values of our hospital and of our organization,” Lewis said. “It is why we have seen employee satisfaction and engagement continually increase over the past five years.”

Lewis says the key to positive improvement has been encouraging staff input and ownership in the workplace.

“Our staff has seen the intentional focus on ensuring staff engagement, increased communication, on increased participation of staff in every aspect of strategy and operational decision-making,” she said.

And the judges have taken notice since the hospital was a silver award winner in 2012, before winning gold this year.

The  organization developed a wellness strategy to address the physical, social and environmental health of staff. Lewis said the hospital has long provided affordable fitness centres and an Employee Assistance Program (free counseling service) but now they are all under one roof along with other services, like massage therapy and nutrition counselling.

For Kerrie Manley, a clinical resource leader in the surgical program, access to fitness facilities and classes on site makes all the difference.  When she returned from maternity leave, she wanted to be fit. In fact, she felt a professional obligation to do so.

“It is important if you’re telling people (patients) to do things then you should be able to do them as well,” she said.

But with professional and family demands, Manley found it hard to fit in exercising as well.

She thought she might be able to deal with the time crunch after watching one colleague head off to the on-site gym every lunch hour. Manley began slowly by going on the elliptical machine first and then she started running, eventually reaching 10 kilometres per day.

Three years later, she is still running but she gained another partner along the way.

“It sort of inspired a domino effect,” she said.

Manley’s dedication to her new sport inspired another colleague to attend the staff gym and take up running too. Between the two of them, they have lost 80 pounds. But it didn’t stop there.

“She went on and made me look bad; she stole my thunder,” Manley said, noting her colleague went on to win a marathon.