• Posted on: 13 October 2019
  • By: lwiseblau

Periodically, we talk to one of our member organizations for a closer look at their health and wellness initiatives. This month, we spoke to University of Virginia’s  (UVA) Vic Tringali, manager of Employee Wellbeing for the University and Health System. Tringali is responsible for the development and delivery of the organization’s wellness strategy and all associated programming.

UVA was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. Today, it’s a top public university. With a student body of 24,700, and more than 25,000 faculty, staff and team members, UVA houses a number of nationally ranked programs, a major academic medical center, and a renowned research arm. The school comprises three divisions: UVA Academic, UVA Health and UVA College at Wise. It also has ten UVA ambulatory sites throughout Virginia.

Hoos Well, UVA’s employee wellness program, seeks to foster a culture of wellness among University of Virginia faculty, staff, and team members by promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and engendering a happier, healthier, and more positive work environment. Recently, Hoos Well developed a three-year wellness strategic plan, core strategic themes, an operating plan, and key milestones. “Wellness programming has been offered for the better part of ten years but the dedicated wellness team and brand have only been in place for approximately eight years,” said Tringali.

Among Hoos Well successes is Hoos Choice, a nutrition program that offers healthy meals across UVA. It is the product of a collaboration among Hoos Well, ARAMARK, Morrison and UVA dietitians, addressing barriers to healthy eating at work: cost, convenience, time constraints and limited availability of healthy food. The initiative sells about 300 nutritional boxed lunches monthly at UVA’s Medical Center and Academic Division. Its Hoos Choice Food Station at one of the school’s dining centers provides healthy meals for hundreds of students and staff members daily.

Hoos Well works in partnership with UVA’s Public Health Sciences via The Education Collaborative for Health Promotion and Wellness, which provides experiential learning and research opportunities for graduate students. The program has initiated research and leveraged the results to help identify motivators and barriers to participation in wellness programs. Hoos Well also partnered with UVA Geospatial Engineering Services (GES) to create interactive walking paths throughout the university’s many campuses.

Additionally, Hoos Well manages an annual campaign, which currently comprises wellness checks with a primary care provider, completion of health assessments, and physical activity challenges at the beginning and end of the academic year.

The program reaches employees online, too. “In our wellness portal, employees can earn rewards for participating in physical, emotional or financial Journeys (self-paced learning modules) that help employees develop positive habits and enhance wellbeing,” said Tringali. The portal has received nearly 15,000 registrations. Its latest physical activity challenge generated more than 1100 self-selected employee teams.

Tringali says Hoos Well aims to make wellness a priority across campus. “We formulated a Campus Wellbeing Advisory team composed of leaders from around the organization who share the mission of creating a culture of wellbeing,” he said. “Collectively, this group advocated and led efforts that initiated the implementation of wellbeing into the university’s strategic plan.”

The future of Hoos Well looks bright, says Tringali. The organization is now establishing partnerships with 12 internal departments that are assisting with design and development of several new educational, clinical and cultural initiatives. “Because the organization is so large and so heavily matrixed, we are learning that our wellbeing efforts require greater senior level support,” he said. “We recognize a need for greater unity from the academic and medical divisions and more agility in resources and programs so we can accommodate a variety of work cultures.”