PUBLISHED: 4:17 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition honors Pioneers Home

Photo courtesy of Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition
  Sitka Pioneers Home employee wellness team leaders Peter Kennedy, left, Georgina Dapcevich, center, and Klaudia Leccese pose with the Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition's Well Workplace of the Month March award.
The Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition has honored the Sitka Pioneers Home with its Well Workplace of the Month award for March. The award recognizes a Sitka organization's efforts in promoting employee wellness within its workplaces.

The Sitka Pioneers Home started 2007 off with a variety of employee wellness activities. In January, Administrator Georgina Dapcevich devoted all of an all-staff meeting to employee wellness as a way to kick off an employee needs and interest survey. Within two weeks of that meeting, the employee wellness team had collected and analyzed the surveys filled out by 95 percent of the staff members. The employee wellness team, under the leadership of Klaudia Leccese and Peter Kennedy, voted to make physical activity and nutrition its top priorities.

This well-organized team led SPH through the first three steps of a plan designed by Wellness Councils of America to help businesses and other organizations create effective employee wellness plans. The next step is to select and implement a wellness program and policy. The Sitka Pioneer Home also played a role in the Sitka Assembly's proclamation Feb. 13 declaring February as Heart Awareness Month. In addition, SPH held a "Heart Healthy" educational campaign for staff and residents, which included informational posters, pedometers to encourage more walking and a Heart Healthy Cook-Off. SPH environmental services staff posted a new bulletin board for healthy information and the staff starts its day with group warm-ups. A weekly on-site exercise group for staff (and energetic residents) also was started in February.

Getting the managers to buy in is critical to all good employee wellness programs, and Dapcevich demonstrated her commitment to employee wellness in a February memo to all SPH staff. "There are many ways to help us become a leader in worksite wellness, such as role-modeling healthy behaviors, appreciating others and being safe, to name a few," Dapcevich wrote. Even though Dapcevich's last day at SPH was March 2 (after five years as administrator), she leaves a legacy of employee wellness for the Sitka Pioneer Home staff to continue to implement and enjoy.

The Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition is a community-wide organization promoting workplace wellness created as a follow-up to the Well Workplace University that took place in Sitka in September 2006. The coalition is co-sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Sitka Community Hospital and the Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program. The coalition's next brown bag lunch meeting is from noon-1:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

For more information on the Sitka Employee Wellness Coalition, contact Doug Osborne of SEARHC Health Promotion at 966-8734 or Jennifer Spriggel of Sitka Community Hospital's Mountainside Family Health Care at 747-0313.