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News: Nurses use senses of humor to challenge patients to join Mile Club

Nurses on the medical/surgical unit at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock are using friendly competition to motivate their patients to get up and move. Vicki Coleman and Lisa Hartman developed the Mile Club to encourage patients to walk 11 laps around the second floor to complete a mile.

“This has been a team effort and it has really brought energy to our unit,”  Coleman said. “We’re using our patients’ senses of humor to inspire them to walk.” 

To encourage patients to move, Coleman and Hartman researched best nursing practices and found what worked best at other hospitals. The nurses built a board that looks like a racetrack with magnetic horses for patients. Each time the patient completes a lap around the unit, he or she moves the horse one increment. When a patient achieves 11 laps, he or she gets a ticket to place into a box for a drawing at a chance to win a prize. Nurses, certified nurse assistants and patient care technicians on the unit are the patient “trainers”  and they are also eligible for prizes based on the number of laps they complete with patients.

Carrie Zbierski, manager of the unit, said patients who get out of bed have a better recovery rate than those who do not move. ”Patients who walk have fewer complications such as pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis, which  everyone wants to avoid,”  Zbierski said. “Physicians want us to get their patients up and moving. Because walking is beneficial in so many ways, we thought if we added competition and helped patients track their laps then they would have more fun.” Zbierski said Coleman and Hartman are experienced nurses who saw an opportunity for improvement and developed a fun and effective solution.

”They have gotten our entire team excited about this, and I can see this initiative spreading to other units in the hospital,”  Zbierski said.Coleman thinks the horse theme may change according to the season, but the focus of the Mile Club will not change.”The safety of our patients is extremely important,”  Coleman said. “It’s not a race. It’s a journey back to health.” 