Brightly coloured exercise mats line the floor of The Scarborough Hospital’s fitness centre. It’s 12:30 p.m. and employees are more than halfway through their weekly yoga class.
Lori Irvine, organization and staff development coordinator, explains how The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) uses fitness to improve patient care.
“They (health-care workers) are wired to help the people around them and their patients, but not so much their own selves,” Irvine said. “So we have to remind them and provide an accessible facility so they can look after themselves and, in the end, be better health-care workers for their patients.”
According to Irvine, the better health-care workers care for themselves, the better they care for patients. TSH provides a 24-hour fitness facility to employees for $15 a month. The fitness centre includes cardio machines, free weights and fitness classes such as body weight boot camp and zumba.
Chris, a physiotherapist at TSH, frequently uses the fitness centre.
“The best thing about this place? One, it’s got everything. Two, the convenience. If it was on the other side of the road, I probably wouldn’t go,” Chris said. “As a physio what we do is move people around, we get them going. We have to be in pretty good shape to help people who are weaker. So this is for work and for life after work.”
Of the 3,500 employees at TSH, about 500 of them are fitness centre members. Exercise brings employees together and reminds them of the mission of the hospital, to provide quality patient care.
“When you come down to be part of a fitness class or work out, there’s a housekeeper in there, with a VP, with a finance guy, who’s in there with a social worker … but in the end we are all in the same boat trying to do the same thing at the hospital,” Irvine said. “There’s nothing like sweating next to somebody.”
Irvine, who started at TSH as a fitness instructor 11 years ago, attests to the positive effects employee fitness has on patient care.
“One of our main things is the quality of our patient care. And in order to do that, we got to be healthy ourselves.”