From green gardens to healthy cooking classes, the staff of Newton-Wellesley Hospital put their heads together on Jan. 25 to make their workplace healthier.
For its first hackathon, Newton-Wellesley sought an inclusive topic that would bring all the hospital’s staff together. The organizers settled on building a healthier work environment.
“We could have started with, ‘How could we improve the cancer center?’ … but does everybody across the whole organization feel really engaged in that?” said Kirsty Boyd, NWH’s director of improvement, design and innovation.
“We all work, so we are all invested in [a healthy workplace],” she said. “And if we all take care of ourselves, we can take better care of our patients.”
The hackathon was a voluntary event, and Boyd said spots filled up quickly. The day-long event drew staff from across the hospital, from food services to physicians, nurses and lab technicians.
The pitch session resulted in 44 ideas, many of which brought to light certain “pain points” staff were experiencing in the organization, said co-organizer Dr. Lesley Adkison, nursing practice innovation leader.
“It’s so clear, all we had to do was ask” what improvements could be made, she said.
Those 44 pitches were narrowed down to seven, and hackathon participants worked in teams to research their ideas and draft proposals. At the end of the day, a panel of judges from the hospital’s strategic leadership team judged those proposals and picked projects to implement.
“It’s not often that you get the opportunity to talk to some of the higher-ups in the place where you work and kind of give them your ideas,” said Ryan Pezanowski, a microbiology technical specialist. His team worked on a pitch to further subsidize fitness opportunities for staff.
With the hackathon, Newton-Wellesley hopes to create a culture where all employees feel comfortable coming up with ideas and creating change, said Boyd. While the hospital already has an online suggestion box in place, a hackathon is better for staff engagement, she said.
“With something like this, they’re really invested in it,” Boyd said. “It’s easy to just type up an idea and send it off to somebody and think someone else will take care of that, but when you’ve actually invested the time to put into bringing that idea to life, it’s more meaningful because you’re part of the solution.”
At the end of the day, the winning pitches were “Walk the Walk” and “Branches of Healing,” which will add peaceful walking routes around the hospital and more natural green spaces, respectively. Plans for implementation will begin in the next few weeks.
“We need to brighten up this space. We need an appealing environment for patients and staff,” explained Jessica Pithis, a labor and delivery nurse who advocated for more green spaces.
The hackathon, she said, gave Newton-Wellesley staff an opportunity to look at the hospital through a different lens.