Exploring the Healthy Hopkins program at Johns Hopkins Medicine

21 September 2022

In the second episode of our podcast series, What Are Your Answers for a Healthy and Resilient Workforce, Dr. Richard Safeer, MD, chief medical director of employee health and well-being at Johns Hopkins Medicine, chats with our very own Shavise Hargro, our Labcorp on-site wellness program manager, about her work with Johns Hopkins employees.

Johns Hopkins is a vast system, comprising many healthcare entities, but over the years, Labcorp's employer services and Johns Hopkins have worked together to grow the Healthy at Hopkins program, so it can remain robust enough to handle a complex enterprise of employees with vastly different health backgrounds.

About the speakers on the podcast

Dr. Richard Safeer, MD, joined Johns Hopkins in 2012, when he set out to elevate the existing Healthy at Hopkins program to support every employee’s personal well-being and health. His team worked to create that “social milieu,” as Safeer puts it, to embed healthy living alternatives into the modern work day.

Shavise Hargro began her career at Johns Hopkins as an exercise physiologist in the School of Public Health before eventually working with Labcorp and the Healthy at Hopkins program. “This dynamic role is great,” Hargro says, “because it gives me the ability to connect with employees. . . It’s definitely like it’s come full circle.” 

Episode one recap: How Dr. Safeer launched Healthy at Hopkins 

In episode one of this series, we learned how Safeer started employee well-being initiatives at Johns Hopkins with an initial, simple solution: creating a program that encouraged healthier choices for employees. Safeer believed that a leading health institution like Johns Hopkins should serve as a model of health promotion

Episode Two: Safeer and Hargro explore answers for a healthy and resilient workforce at Johns Hopkins 

In episode two, we listen in on a conversation between Safeer and Shavise Hargro about the program. Here are some highlights:

How do you build a sustainable Healthy at Hopkins culture?

Part of what has kept Healthy at Hopkins thriving is a culture of well-being that includes activities like well-being events, fit breaks, seminars, webinars and other wellness sub-programs (like the Keep Your Pressure Down program and resources).

“[Being] dynamic is an important part of our success,” Safeer says. Indeed, the ability to maintain several moving parts of a large healthcare system is practically a prerequisite for success—partnering with Labcorp enables Healthy at Hopkins to take full advantage of our Labcorp's employer service mission, which entails:

  • Promoting employee safety and productivity
  • Enabling better employee health
  • Enhancing employee experiences

How are you encouraging self-care within the program?

“One of our themes this past year was ‘stronger with self-care,’ [which was] very much about aligning our messaging and resources around people taking care of themselves,” Safeer says. “Because without that self-care, we can’t serve each other [or] our patients.”

A lot of what the program tackles is stress, both Hargro and Safeer illuminate. “I do get in some physical activity—walking outside, going to the gym—but I do believe in the power of rest," says Hargro.

Because the work day is filled with many potential stressors, the program is designed to mitigate this with immediate solutions, such as the wellness cart and steps challenge. Both the cart (which provides healthy, shared snacks and treats) and the challenge (which encourages employees to reach their daily steps) help open the doorway to seeing the daily impact of the program.

On this episode, Hargro shares a personal story about a fellow employee she met while operating the wellness cart who really thrived in their new daily routines because of the program.

Five years ago the steps challenge had only about 1,000 participants. Today it boasts over 8,000, which is over 20% of the Johns Hopkins workforce.

What role do cheerleaders provide in the organization?

At the end of the day, joint programs like this truly flourish with what Hargro and Safeer call “peer support.” Peer support involves individuals Hargro and Safeer refer to as "cheerleaders," who support their colleagues seeking to switch up their daily routine for making better health choices.

“I do see a lot of [cheerleaders] definitely supporting each other whether it’s using the portal or just getting active,” says Hargro.

At Johns Hopkins and Labcorp, healthier journeys begin with each other. From there, it’s about using resources and real-time data to ensure a robust well-being program for the entire workforce.

Learn more about our employer services programs. 

Listen to the Podcast