Escondido, CA

Palomar Health focuses on employee wellness

Palomar Health is taking the position that the wellness of its employees is just as important as the wellness of its patients and the communities it serves.

The hospital district is holding four Employee Wellness Events from January 17 to 20 at its different campuses:“Celebrate Your Passion for Health.”

“Palomar Health’s Employee Wellness Council is committed to helping employees feel empowered to reduce stress, create balance in their lives, and improve their overall health and well-being,” said Julie Vargas, Palomar Health’s wellness coordinator and co-planner of the events. “To do this, we work to bring supportive wellness programs to our employees and we are really excited about some of the new components of our programming for 2017.”

Employees will be able to take part in educational workshops and will also receive a fitness tracker to participate in organization-wide physical activity challenges. In addition, programs such as Weight Watchers will be held at the Poway and Escondido campuses to help employees improve their health and learn more about how to balance work and personal life.

“When companies invest in their employee they find there’s less absenteeism,” said Kathryn Vasaeli, a nutrition specialist and registered dietitian at Palomar Health, and the other organizer of the wellness events. “When you’re not well, even if you show up to work, you’re not being as efficient and productive. We have a duty not only to our community to be a role-model, but also to our employees to feed them healthier and more nutritious foods.”

At the events, employees will get to sample healthy meal and snack choices prepared by Palomar Health’s Food and Nutrition Services team, with its new Executive Chef John Medall, whose background is in restaurant cuisine and being a chef to celebrities.

“We want the employees to get excited about the delicious food that just so happens to be healthy,” said Vasaeli.

Palomar Health’s healthy eating program focuses on plant-based food, because research indicates that vegetarian diets can reverse and even reduce disease.

In addition, Palomar Health is already revolutionizing patient meals as well — giving patients healthy options, but not taking away comfort foods.

“Want to make patients feel comfortable when they come to the hospital,” said Vasaeli. “If mac and cheese is something that everybody feels good about, then we’re going to leave that on the menu — while making it a little healthier. But we are also going to feature healthier options so people can make that choice if they want to.”

Palomar Health Participates in PRIME

Palomar Health has been granted participation in PRIME, a government funded reimbursement Medi-Cal program to focus on the prevention of obesity and promotion of healthier hospital foods in California.

The hospital district is part of a wave of healthcare leaders who are shaping a food system that support prevention-based practices. Four leading causes of death, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, can be prevented or reversed with lifestyle modification. “We want to take our healing one step further and focus on diet-related prevention, the primary cause of 85% of morbidity rates, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association,” said a spokesman for the district. “Quality of life resides in a person’s state of wellness and we are committed to providing the optimum state of wellness for everyone who passes through our doors.”

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