Saluting BJC All-Stars

The 2016 BJC Health Hall of Fame honorees took center stage Oct. 2, 2016, for pre-game ceremonies during the St. Louis Cardinals-Pittsburgh Pirates series. The honorees and their guests enjoyed the Cardinals-Pirates game courtesy of BJC Help for Your Health in recognition of their health achievements.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital – Just over a year ago, Holly Watson, emergency services clinical nurse manager, decided she was ready for a change. “I was tired of being tired,” she says. “I was ready to have energy and feel good again.”

So she set off on a weight loss journey that included portion-controlled meals of protein and healthy carbohydrates every three hours, very little sugar, and lots of water. “Holly packs her lunch and snacks every day,” her nominator says. “And she follows the plan she set for herself without fail. Holly has motivated others in our department to also adopt a healthier lifestyle. She’s provided shopping lists, meal plans and recipes to help other employees in their quest for better health. Today, Holly is more than 100 pounds lighter, looks amazing and is a bundle of energy.”

Watson says the changes were difficult at first - especially decreasing her sugar intake. “But once I got past that part, it’s been much easier because I feel so much better,” she says. “As a result, it’s become a habit and my normal lifestyle. I feel like a totally new person.”

Barnes-Jewish St. Peters HospitalMary Berdick, patient safety/quality improvement data analyst, had always lived a healthy lifestyle. Then, two tragic events occurred in her life that forced her to focus even more on her health. In May 2009, Berdick was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was lucky that with yearly mammograms, my cancer was caught in the very early stages,” she says.

Even more devastating, she says, was the loss of her husband, Jeff, six months earlier. After working out one day, he developed an irregular heart rhythm, and emergency personnel were unable to save him. He was just 38.

Berdick says those two events have combined to keep her healthy and strong. “Our daughter, Bri, was 15 months old when he died. So now I’m all she has, and I will do anything to live a long, healthy life with her.”

Berdick says she receives support and encouragement from her family, friends and co-workers. They, in turn, say she’s an inspiration to them. “Everything I’ve done for myself and for my daughter is worth it,” she says. “I want to be an active part of my friends’ and family’s lives.”

Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital - If you go through the cafeteria line at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Marsha Carter, food and nutrition cashier, is likely to urge you to choose veggies, instead of fried food. She encourages her family and co-workers to live a healthier life - which is exactly what she’s been doing in 2016.

She started on the path to better health in 2008 when she quit smoking. In 2016, she lost more than 27 pounds and started exercising. “My grandkids need me,” she says. “I want to be around for them as long as possible.”

Carter has added more vegetables, fruits, protein and water to her diet; eats limited fried foods and sweets; and walks and dances. She also joined the Prevent diabetes prevention program offered through BJC Total Rewards. In addition to her weight loss, her blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped. She hopes to lose another 11-12 pounds and is well on her way. 

“I was excited to be named to the Health Hall of Fame,” she says. “It has encouraged me to walk even more.”

BJC HealthCare - Mark Bail, BJC audit services senior internal auditor, was nominated by his entire department. 

Bail’s journey to the Health Hall of Fame began in 2010, when he decided to improve his health by walking for 30 minutes, four times a week. Walking became not only an exercise goal, Bail says, but something he looked forward to. Before long, his one, simple 30-minute route blossomed into six “core” routes varying in difficulty and length. In 2015, Bail joined the BJC WellAware Center. Now, between the gym and exercising outdoors, he logs an average of about 7 miles per day. Also in 2015, he started a physician-supervised protein-shake diet.

In just over seven months, he lost half of his bodyweight -- achieving his goal and reaching a weight he hadn’t seen in almost two decades. As a result, his blood pressure dropped and he reduced his cholesterol medication, as well as medicine for joint pain. Bail’s co-workers say his journey has been an inspiration to them, motivating the team to learn about and embrace healthy eating and exercise.

Boone Hospital Center - In August 2015, Phyliss Golden, admissions nurse, organized a team for the Healthy Wage Weight Loss Challenge. When the challenge started, she weighed 178.8 pounds and wore a size 18. Today, she weighs 123.4 pounds and wears a size 6. Golden was nominated by more than 50 of her co-workers, who noted: “Although the challenge has ended, Phyliss continues to wake up each day with the mindset to live healthier — and it radiates from her to others.”

Golden started her weight-loss journey by focusing on her eating habits, limiting fat and walking. She now walks an average of 5-10 miles per day. Her co-workers say she has become a mentor for many. After Golden purchased a Fitbit®, those who were following her journey wanted to join in, so the Fitbit became a necessary accessory among admissions staff. “She engaged so many in her journey,” her co-workers say. “Her success is contagious and inspiring!”

Golden also is co-director of the health and wellness ministry at her church, where she leads fitness classes, promotes wellness programs and manages monthly health screenings.

Christian HospitalMatthew Kauffmann’s journey to health began with the flu. After the worst of the flu had passed, he announced to his family that since he had already lost 12 pounds to the flu, he might as well lose some more.
He began to change his diet, starting with meal planning, so he could make good food choices each day. Then, he began to track his steps with a Fitbit®. On days he didn’t work, after his family was asleep, he took long late-night walks around the small town of Lebanon, Ill., to reach 10,000 steps. During 24-hour shifts as a critical care paramedic, he walked many circles in parking lots and firehouse bays during downtime to meet each day’s goal. He also got a gym membership and set weekly goals.

Kauffmann has lost 83 pounds, or 29.4 percent of his original weight. “Even more remarkable, he’s kept those pounds off for more than two years, and daily activity remains a top priority for him,” his nominator says. “His weight loss is a motivation to family, friends and co-workers. However, the most important part is he understands this is a lifetime journey.”

Missouri Baptist Medical Center - About two years ago, phlebotomist Mike Onkledecided he wanted to become fit and lose weight. He had seen too many family members and patients suffer from weight-related illnesses. “I didn’t want to go through that,” he says. “I wanted to nip it in the bud before it was too late.”

So he made an appointment with an outpatient dietitian, where he learned about healthful eating and portion control. He also started cycling on a stationary bike. He lost 40 pounds over six months. Then, in May 2015, Onkle underwent gastric bypass surgery. “Mike began his weight loss journey months before surgery,” says one of his five nominators. “He was dedicated and determined to achieve his goal. After his gastric bypass, the weight just kept coming off.” 

After surgery, Onkle lost another 110 pounds. Today, he continues to monitor what he eats and is an avid cyclist, riding up to 40 miles a day on his days off. “I feel great now that I’ve lost all that weight,” he says. “And I’m happy to say I’m maintaining my weight and haven’t gained any back.”

Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital - Dianna Parnell, Medical Office Building project coordinator, started her journey to get in shape in August 2015. Although she had been eating a low-fat diet for several years, her weight had been creeping up. She attributes the weight gain to eating “too much sugar and carbs.”
“Long story short - you can eat a low-fat diet, yet overload yourself with sugar and gain weight,” she says. “I knew I needed to make some serious changes.”

Parnell decided to take advantage of BJC’s Weight Watchers discount and began attending meetings in Sullivan. She also bought a treadmill and joined the Prevent diabetes prevention program offered through BJC Total Rewards.

“This isn’t a diet for me,” Parnell says. “It’s a lifestyle change - along with walking whenever I can and using the treadmill. I feel pretty good with my 45-pound weight loss and I’m also happy to report that my blood sugars are now in a normal range.” Parnell is continuing her weight-loss journey and hopes to lose another 20 pounds.

Parkland Health Center - Marketing manager Ursula Warren has just one regret about the major lifestyle change she’s undertaken in the past year - that she didn’t do it sooner. “I come from a long line of unhealthy people,” Warren says. “Nearly everyone on my father’s side of the family has died before their 50th birthday with diabetes, heart disease and other weight-related diseases.”

At age 49, she knew something had to change. “My body ached, my blood pressure and cholesterol were high, my blood sugar was going up. I was taking daily maintenance medications for all of these things, and losing the battle.”

She underwent gastric bypass surgery on Nov. 10, 2015. As soon as she was cleared to exercise, she started walking and carefully monitored her nutrition. Before long, she began running and adding other activities that she enjoyed, such as Zumba, cycling, swimming, dancing and hiking.

Warren has lost 142 pounds and no longer requires any medications. “The changes in my life in the past year have saved my life. Of that, I’m sure. In January, I will turn 50,” she says. “I’m reasonably sure I’ll live to see that birthday and beyond.”

Progress West Hospital - Anne Corona, RNFA, has inspired her co-workers by her dedication and commitment to exercise, weight loss and improving her health. In August 2015, Corona signed up for the Prevent diabetes prevention program offered through BJC Total Rewards. As part of the program, she joined a gym, where she began taking classes and performing individual workouts. She also worked to improve her diet, based on recommendations from the Prevent coach.

Corona and her nominator were taking BSN classes together at the time. “While studying, Anne was always prepared with healthy snacks - which isn’t easy because snacking mindlessly is often a side effect of studying,” her nominator says.

Since beginning the Prevent program, Corona has lost more than 60 pounds. “To those around her, the changes are apparent and a motivation to make a healthy lifestyle a part of our lives, too. Ann shows that a healthy lifestyle is achievable — even when trying to balance home, children/husband, children’s activities, school/studying, work in surgery, and all else that life deals out,” her nominator notes.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital - Just three years ago, Billy Landon, blood bank, weighed 500 pounds. He lost more than 210 pounds - and 18 inches from his waist - without surgery, just medically supervised diet and exercise.

Landon’s Health Hall of Fame nomination from a co-worker reads, in part: “In 2013 at over 500 pounds, Billy started swimming and lost 18 inches off his waist. Then in February 2014 Billy and his wife, Amy, started a medically monitored weight-loss program. Since then Billy lost over 210 pounds, and his wife lost more than 100 pounds.

“Billy has consistently lost weight with a healthy, low-calorie diet and exercise program. What was once a diet is now a way of life. Billy looks better, feels better and is an inspiration to others, including myself.”

Landon says he decided to lose weight to “be there” for his family. “Three years ago, my nephew lost his father and both grandfathers,” Landon says. “I became the adult male in his life, so I wanted to step up and be there for him.”

Landon says he’s honored, overwhelmed, proud and grateful for the award.

Nominees:
•    Barnes-Jewish Hospital: Bryce Bradley, Kate Fuller, Rosemarie Hand, Michelle Malone, Kelley Phillips, Anne Schrupp, Shelby Schroder, Lisa Weindel, Jill Wlordarczyk
•    Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital: Julie Gettemeier, Amanda Goede
•    Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital: Christie Brunts, Connie Hall, Janice Davis, Joyce Schneider, Susan Ross
•    BJC HealthCare: Mark Adkins, Robin Britton, Brian Christopher, Latoya Green, Jennifer Moen, Julie Siebert, Aimee Scott, La Chonda Smith, Billy Wood
•    Boone Hospital Center: Byron Baker, Shari Bullard, Chris Custer, Debbie Day, Judy Feintuch, Julie Gebert, Ronald Hein, Audrey Middaugh
•    Christian Hospital: Kayla Goewey, Tricia O’Laughlin, Tom Raftery, Becky Simpson, Catherine Taylor, Jocelyn Wyms
•    Missouri Baptist Medical Center: Ben Voss, MD
•    Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital: Natalie Counts
•    Progress West Hospital: Daniel Allen, Dale Franklin, Kimberly Ranck-Weiss
•    St. Louis Children’s Hospital: Theresa Cape, Kristen Ray, Heather Taylor, Kimberley Wyman

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