Obici staff shows its creative side

Published 8:51 pm Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine’s Day had already passed, but on Monday, employees of Sentara Obici Hospital’s 40 different departments got a chance to find out how much their hard work and commitment are appreciated by their colleagues and patients.

In a special program under the direction of the hospital’s Planetree Spirit of Worklife Committee, each of the hospital’s departments from maintenance to ICU, designed a special box to receive Valentine’s wishes.

In the days leading up to Valentine’s, hospital staff members were encouraged to visit Obici’s Heritage Hallway, where the boxes had been collected, and drop handwritten notes of thanks and encouragement to fellow staffers who had enriched their working experiences.

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“It has really touched a lot of lives,” said Linda Carr an administrative secretary at Obici and chairman of the hospital’s Spirit of Worklife committee. Last year, she said, a couple of hospital employees who had never received Valentine’s Day cards got their first through their department’s boxes.

When employees learned they would participate in the exchange again this year, she said, “It brought smiles. They were excited to do it.”

A big part of the fun turned out to be in the design and construction of the boxes, each of which was to reflect the character or purpose of the department that it represented.

The box from the neonatal ward was readily identifiable, because it was a bassinet with cabbage patch dolls. Imaging services’ box included a sonogram with a Cupid’s name on it. The guys from engineering took an austere approach, neatly wrapping a box in construction drawings.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in here,” Carr said. “It was just so good to see them enthused and happy and smiling.”

Even families of patients stopped at the tables in the well-traveled hall to look at the results of the hospital staff’s creative energies.

“It’s sort of like an art show,” said Gloria Seitz, who works in Obici’s corporate communications offices in Norfolk and made the trip to Suffolk on Friday to see the collection of Valentine’s boxes.

The project is just one of the ways that Carr’s Worklife committee strives to keep hospital employees engaged and excited about their work, she said.

There are 10 components to the approach the hospital takes to patient-centered therapy under the Planetree program, she said. According to the nonprofit organization’s Web site, those components include encouraging spirituality as a part of healing, consideration of the “nutritional and nurturing aspects of food” and a focus on music, artwork, theater crafts and clowns to help enhance the hospital’s environment.

According to its vision statement, “As a global catalyst and leader, Planetree promotes the development and implementation of innovative models of healthcare that focus on healing and nurturing body, mind and spirit.”

Seitz said the hospital has been a Planetree member since 2001.