Patient Care Means Employee Care at Illinois Hospitals

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Medical Centers Receive Annual HeartMath® Awards

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They are also happier and feel better equipped to handle the daily challenges of healthcare on a fast-paced unit. Giving the HeartMath tools to new employees has better prepared them to work with our patient population.

Two Illinois hospitals share a commitment to taking care of patients by taking care of their employees and have been rewarded for that commitment. Their resolve to improve their facilities by embracing that philosophy has earned each the ''HeartMath Hospital'' designation and the ''Continuity of Care'' award.

Located just over 100 miles from one another in the Land of Lincoln, Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria exemplify the kind of organizations in which leaders understand the success of their operations depends on the success and well-being of their employees.

Riverside Medical Center Employees Praise HeartMath® Techniques

A 2002 Riverside employee survey identified stress as a top area for improvement, so administrators decided to launch a HeartMath® training program to reduce stress, improve patient satisfaction, maintain a focus on retaining quality staff, and ensure quality patient care.

By August 2008, 928 employees had taken HeartMath training, which began in January 2003. The following are among the results Riverside officials reported:

  • Improvement in job satisfaction, communication, teamwork, vitality, resiliency, and emotional intelligence
  • Reduction in symptoms of physical stress
  • Consistent Top 10 national percentile ranking among hospitals for employee satisfaction, according to the Morehead Associates survey
  • 2003 Sodexho-Marriott Best Practice winner for Orientation, Onboarding and Recognition Practices
  • 2006 finalist for 100 Best Companies to Work For® in the U.S.
  • For the 928 employees trained in HeartMath, their turnover rate is half the overall turnover rate for all staff.

"We have heard countless stories from our HeartMath-trained staff, thanking us for giving them tools that have helped them make a personal difference in the organization," said Phil Kambic, Riverside Medical Center President and CEO. "The techniques have helped leaders and staff in the following situations: decreasing patient anxiety, improving patient safety, providing performance feedback and dealing with conflict, and increasing creativity, innovation and ease in communications and decision-making."

A recent survey showed that 98% of HeartMath-trained new employees - who now routinely are taught HeartMath techniques during orientation - said the training gave them a positive outlook upon joining the hospital and provided coping tools for the anxiety that can accompany a change in jobs and for easing through a busy workday.

There was an added benefit to training, said Janet Jensen, Riverside Director of Education Services. "We continue to hear how our HeartMath-trained employees have used these techniques with their loved ones at home to help provide an appreciative and supportive environment. We see our employees as caregivers, and the HeartMath program allows us to care for them!"

OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Geared up for Stress

Foreseeing an increase in employee stress in 2004 as the hospital was set to launch a new medical information technology system, administrators at OSF Saint Francis turned to HeartMath to help with the transition to the new system and to support the institution's mission of caring for patients and their caregivers.

Since July 2004, more than 1,000 OSF Saint Francis employees have gone through HeartMath training, and the hospital's successes during that time include:

  • The Performance Improvement Leaders Award from Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals
  • 2008-09 National Research Corporation Consumer Choice Award
  • Magnet hospital designation
  • The Get with the Guidelines Cardiovascular Award
  • The Vermont Oxford Network, a major voluntary information-sharing network for NICU data, reported in November that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the medical center's Children's Hospital of Illinois was the best in the world based on 2005-07 data collected from more than 600 NICUs worldwide.

"HeartMath-trained employees have better control over how they react to challenging situations and subsequently, this increases their autonomy," hospital administrators said in a joint statement. "They are also happier and feel better equipped to handle the daily challenges of healthcare on a fast-paced unit. Giving the HeartMath tools to new employees has better prepared them to work with our patient population."

Also at OSF Saint Francis:

  • Patient-care-unit nurses have incorporated HeartMath tools and technology to help their patients
  • Employee physical stress symptoms have declined
  • Vitality, resiliency and emotional intelligence have improved
  • HeartMath-trained employees have enrolled in other wellness programs after applying HeartMath tools in their lives.

HeartMath methods are introduced for 30 minutes to all new employees during orientation. Trainers teach them the Quick Coherence® technique and employees can use the emWave® Personal Stress Reliever to see how it can help them manage stress. Then employees are encouraged to sign up for HeartMath workshops. Three Transforming Stress Workshops are offered each month.

The ''HeartMath Hospital'' and ''Continuity of Care'' Awards

The ''HeartMath Hospital'' designation is the highest recognition HeartMath bestows upon hospitals nationwide which meet or exceed standards of quality, staff well-being, and patient care. Additionally, the award honors hospital leaders who exhibit exceptional care for the well-being of their institution's employees.

The ''Continuity of Care'' award recognizes a hospital's long-term commitment to integrating HeartMath practices into a hospital's culture for the benefit of staff, patients, and the community.

"HeartMath is proud to present these national awards to two Illinois hospitals† that have demonstrated sustainable results from implementing the HeartMath program," said Bruce Cryer, HeartMath President and CEO. "By incorporating HeartMath tools and techniques into their clinical and administrative practices, the leaders of these institutions have committed to monitoring and reducing employee stress and improving employee performance - to the ultimate benefit of their patients and communities."

''In addition,'' Cryer said, "the inherent pressures at all levels of the nation's hospitals are being exacerbated by the turmoil of the global financial crises being felt across communities like Kankakee and Peoria, but the leaders of Riverside Medical Center and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center have demonstrated their concern for the well-being not only of their patients, but their employees as well."

†The awards were presented for the first time in 2007 to Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, IL

About OSF Saint Francis Medical Center:
With roots dating back to 1876, OSF Saint Francis, situated on the bluff overlooking the Illinois River, is a major regional healthcare center that is convenient to much of North Central Illinois. It is a Level 1 trauma center with Life Flight helicopter patient transport; has a specialized emergency care unit; and provides a full range of specialty service lines, including the Illinois Neurological Institute/OSF Stroke Network, OSF Heart Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Illinois. Learn more at

About Riverside Medical Center:
Established in 1964, Riverside HealthCare is a nonprofit medical facility serving Chicago's south suburban counties with a full range of inpatient and outpatient care. With medical campuses in Kankakee and Bourbonnais, Riverside is nationally recognized for its specialty programs in heart care, obstetrics, trauma, oncology, rehabilitation, geriatrics, occupational health, treatment of alcohol and chemical dependency, and psychiatric services. Riverside partners with RUSH University Medical Center in Chicago for its heart and oncology programs. Riverside Community Health Centers offer complete family care in nine south suburban communities of Chicago. Learn more at

About HeartMath LLC:
HeartMath is an innovative performance company providing a range of unique scientifically validated services, products and technology to improve health and well-being, while dramatically reducing stress and boosting productivity. HeartMath research studies have demonstrated the critical link between emotions, heart function and cognitive performance. HeartMath's studies on the clinical outcomes of the HeartMath approach have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science. Learn more at


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Gabriella “Gaby” Boehmer
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