Wellness Ambassadors Spread Cheer – and Snacks – to Staff Under Stress
A moment of relief can be hard to find when you’re working in a hospital that’s been overwhelmed by patients desperately sick with COVID-19. That’s where the Wellness Ambassadors come in.
Once a week, during every shift, the ambassadors are dispatched throughout Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia to deliver messages of appreciation and bags of snacks and niceties, to create a bright moment during a gloomy time.
“The program is designed to help relieve some of the stress, anxiety and fatigue people are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mikaela Polman, who works in organizational development. Polman helped create the program, which covers all of Einstein’s Urban Core institutions, including Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park and Willowcrest.
And while the Wellness Ambassadors are focused on bringing the bags to nurses’ stations, they also hand them out to everyone working in other departments, from food service workers to technicians to security officers, among others.
“Everyone who’s working here is supporting the people who are on the front lines; they’re all Einstein heroes,” Polman said. “They all deserve recognition.”
Front-Line and Support Staff
Polman and Laura Romano, Director of Spiritual Care and Mindfulness, created the Wellness Ambassador program after longtime Einstein Board of Trustees member and philanthropist Richard Sheerr and his wife, Betsy, expressed concern for the staff and made known their desire to provide a boost to morale and mental well-being.
“It was obvious that philanthropy was required to facilitate Einstein getting through this situation,” Sheerr said of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We wanted to help the people who are engaged in this battle.”
The generous gift helped Polman assemble 3,000 bags filled with water, granola bars, mints, snack bags of pretzels and mini-Hershey bars. They also included hand lotion and lip balm. At one point, the entire space of Gouley Auditorium was overflowing with tables of bags filled to the brim.
Juanita Way, Associate Vice President of Healthcare Services, supervised the bag-filling and a half dozen Einstein employees were selected, in part based on their outgoing and cheerful personalities, to become Wellness Ambassadors.
One of them is Alexia Malveiro. She’s a medical assistant at Einstein Elkins Park who is supplementing her hours curtailed by COVID as a Wellness Ambassador. She distributes the bags on the midnight-to-7-a.m. shift.
‘A Little Bit of Happiness’
“It was honestly really rewarding to go to those floors and bring a little bit of happiness because those people are in the middle of the battle,” she said. “Everybody is really happy about it. They say, ‘Thank you so much.’ They’re very appreciative.”
Polman said the feedback she’s received from employees has been very positive. “People have been really happy.”
The program has now been supplemented by donations of snacks and will continue as long as possible during the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s always been part of our philanthropic philosophy to find ways to help the helpers,” said Betsy Sheerr, of the many causes she and her husband support.
“There’s so much they do for other people and they never ask for acknowledgement. We wanted to make sure they know we are grateful and appreciative of their sacrifices.”