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Walking challenge unites staff

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

EMERGENCY workers at University Hospital Geelong have taken more than 43 million steps together in the name of unity and fitness.

A new wellness program at Barwon Health’s Emergency Department has encouraged staff to exercise and track their steps and strengthen social support networks in a “COVID-safe” environment.

Emergency Department consultant Dr Minnie Seward said the 10,000 Steps - North to South Coast Tournament had given about 150 staff a new way to interact since social distancing had impacted support networks, with less opportunities for gatherings outside of the workplace.

“We work in a pretty dynamic and potentially very stressful environment at the best of times, especially in a pandemic, so our support network is really important,” Dr Seward said.

“The concept of working as a team is so incredibly vital and when your team changes every day, you need to have good communication, interaction and relationships with everyone you might work with.

“The walking challenge united us in teams across the floor, including staff from security, mental health, nursing and medical, PSAs and cleaners.”

The free mobile app 10,000 Steps tracked walking distances travelled over time, with a goal of 38 million steps per team – equal to the 3040km distance from Port Douglas to Hobart.

Dr Seward said morale had been boosted since starting the challenge, as well as fitness levels, even after the six-week program finished earlier this month.

“Some staff have continued with the walking and have even self-started additional walking challenges to keep it going with their colleagues, family and other friends,” she said.

“Some people have done as many as 50,000 steps a day, getting really fit and active.

“It’s been quite contagious - some of us took up running again or taking walks during lunch breaks or after night shifts.

“It brought staff members together from different working groups and it’s been a social outlet for people to do together or even with their families on the weekend.

“It’s been really encouraging as we motivate each other to stay active and mildly competitive.”

The six-week program involved some fundraising with prizes and a weekly newsletter with challenges such as treasure hunts.