Success Stories

Denver Health / Denver, CO

Certified Healthy Workplace™ Leader

Denver Health is a comprehensive, integrated organization providing level one care for all, regardless of ability to pay. Twenty-five percent of all Denver residents, or approximately 150,000 individuals, receive their health care at Denver Health. One in three children in Denver is cared for by Denver Health physicians as well. Denver Health is an integrated, efficient, high-quality health care system serving as a model for other safety net institutions across the nation. 

Health Links (HL): Why is the health and safety of your employees important to you?

Denver Health (DH): At Denver Health the safety & quality of our patients is a key priority. We also know if we don’t take care of the health and safety of our own team members, this will impact the overall patient experience. We are working hard to establish and foster a supportive environment that provides our employees the ability to strengthen their health and well-being through activities, self-improvement, and educational opportunities.


HL: What does your workplace health and safety program look like? Do you offer both components to employees?

DH: I’ve (Tracy Shea) been with Denver Health for one year, when I started I was given the opportunity to restructure the wellness program, our program is part of the Human Resources department under the Workforce Engagement Strategic pillar. We have 15-20 key leaders representing different departments on our Wellbeing and Culture Committee. Over the past year, we’ve developed an overall mission and vision for the program – to create a thriving organizational culture of workplace well-being.  Our keys to well-being focus on four areas to include:  physical and environmental, social and community, financial, mental and emotional.  We are also looking for ways to keep our workforce connected with each other and opportunities to partner with other community organizations and internal Denver Health departments and committees. We’ve recently rolled out our wellbeing champion program; our goal is to have a well-being champion for every department and unit within our organization.  The Champions will serve as trusted voices for our Workplace Well-being program and help shape initiatives that will enhance the culture of well-being for our employees and community. 


HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?

DH: In our first year we have focused on employee engagement as our key metric for our program success. Our first goal was to drive overall engagement so we didn’t want to push biometric screenings or health risk assessments right out of the gate. Instead we relied on the annual employee engagement survey. There are specific questions aimed at health and wellbeing and how employees perceive those efforts. We are also in the process of identifying other leading and lagging indicators to measure our success to include health care claims data, EAP utilization, worker’s compensation data to identify trends and opportunities. We have recently partnered with our ergonomic specialist and several nursing students and have plans for a back care education program on proper posture and lifting.  Additionally, we ran several wellness themed challenges last year and we conduct pre and post program surveys for each challenge.


HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?

DH: Our biggest challenge was getting our program up and running and communicating to our employees that we have a wellness program.  Because we are such a large organization with multiple sites and a dispersed workforce, we needed to be creative with our program development to ensure programs were accessible for all. We worked closely with our marketing department on a comprehensive communication strategy to market our well-being program and create awareness around the activities and resources available.  Our new well-being champion program will hopefully help us with communications moving forward.


HL: Does your health and safety program help give back to your community?

DH: We have a variety of community partners that we work with and partner with throughout the year.  There are several community events that we support and opportunities for our employees to join a Denver Health team and/or volunteer.


HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace health and safety program?

DH: Look at best practices and what other organizations have done. Make sure you have leadership support and that the program aligns with the overall organization strategic plans and goals. I recommend beginning with a wellness needs assessment, as there are many free tools and resources available.  Based on the information on the wellness assessment, you can then work on prioritizing wellness initiatives and short and long term goals.