Building a culture of health: Johns Hopkins Medicine in partnership with Labcorp

20 October 2022

Dr. Richard Safeer: A Champion of Culture & Well-being

Labcorp is on a mission to improve health and improve lives. In fact, each year we engage in over 10 million patient interactions, especially those in the workforce. At Labcorp Employer Services (LES), we are proud to partner with our clients and their employees in support of their well-being and safety initiatives.

Johns Hopkins Medicine is one of our longstanding partners. Dr. Richard Safeer, MD, chief medical director of employee health and well-being at Johns Hopkins Medicine, is an expert when it comes to building a culture of health and well-being. Safeer and his team lead the Healthy at Hopkins program in partnership with LES. Connecting the well-being to culture has been one of the key factors to the program’s success. We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Safeer—here are some of the highlights.


Improving Employee Wellness Can Start With Small Ideas (or Big Red Trucks)

Shortly after starting at Johns Hopkins, Safeer found himself walking around the main campus, deep in thought about how he’d make his mark at his new organization. It was on this walk he spotted something that surprised him: a large red truck parked beside the hospital.

Safeer noticed it wasn’t an emergency vehicle like a fire truck or ambulance; it was a massive delivery truck. And on its side was printed the name of a soft drink brand.

“Holy cow, that is the biggest delivery truck of soda I’ve ever seen,” Safeer said, recalling the moment he spotted the truck. “And look at that: it’s under this sign. This big capital letter ‘E.’ What is going on here?”

It was then he realized this soda delivery truck was sitting beneath an old emergency room sign. For Safeer, a light bulb went off. If there was that much soda coming into the hospital, Safeer reasoned, there must be a lot of it making its way into the mouths and stomachs of Johns Hopkins employees.

And with that realization, one of Safeer’s first employee wellness projects at Johns Hopkins was conceived: a program that encourages healthier food and beverage choices for all employees.

Programs like this may start with small observations or humble ideas, but they can have a profound impact. Safeer encourages employers to keep their eyes open for opportunities to improve employee health.

“If you can find something that resonates with you personally, that brings your passion out,” Safeer said. “That’s something you may want to take advantage of as long as it’s consistent with how it might help the entire organization. Everybody drinks something; whether it’s water or soda, that’s the question.”

How Johns Hopkins Keeps Employees Healthy

Safeer discussed a few key contributors to employee health and wellness at Johns Hopkins.

The first was the wealth of knowledge and expertise right on campus.

“We’re fortunate to have a lot of assets at our disposal,” he said. “We’ve got world-class leaders in a lot of different healthcare arenas. So even just with that strategy to improve the beverage environment and make it easier for our employees to choose a healthy beverage, we were able to draw on world experts in our School of Public Health to help us with that strategy.”

Another key to employee well-being at Johns Hopkins is what Safeer refers to as a “culture of health.”

“We use a ‘culture of health’ model to create a well-being culture,” Safeer said. “The reason why we do this is because with more than 40,000 employees, we can’t possibly put in place 40,000 different programs to help each person individually, but we can create a well-being culture where everybody’s well-being journey is supported and where they can find the support they need with their peers, their leaders, [and] with the positive social climate that we create and with the different resources we’ve put in place.”

Backed by a wealth of internal resources and powered by a culture of health, the employee health and wellness program at Johns Hopkins also gets a boost from its partnership with LES, said Safeer.

“Having a collaborative partnership with Labcorp Employer Services is very helpful,” said Safeer. “I’m really very happy with the talent of the on-site coordinators that LES provides. Our workforce, our leaders love when Shavise and Celeste are leading well-being exercises with our team.”

Listen to the complete podcast and join us next time when we speak with Shavise Hargro, wellness program manager.