Close Print View Issue

Employees climb mountains and circle the earth

20170916_110506-(1).jpg152—it’s no small number. That’s the number of times you would have to walk around the earth to match the number of steps EMHS employees have walked since the start of the Virgin Pulse health program in January 2016. Employees have tallied up more than 20 billion steps and counting! They’re not just walking down hospital corridors or on walkways around buildings, but up mountains.

“This is the second year we’ve done this hike,” explained Paul Bolin, EMHS vice president and chief human resources officer. Paul led a group of about 20 employees on a fall hike up Penobscot and Sargent Mountains in Acadia National Park on September 16.

“It’s one of our favorite hikes my wife and I take, so we thought we could share the experience with people who may not have hiked Acadia before or who have not spent time hiking as a physical activity outlet in the past.”

Paul is among a group of employees who not only chooses to exercise in their free time, but likes to involve co-workers. “I think it is part of our culture. Many of our employees enjoy doing things outside of work with their co-workers and this is just one outlet for that, but certainly Virgin Pulse puts a finer point on those regarding wellness initiatives,” explained Paul.

Total Health wellness specialist, Elizabeth Clayton says that one of the reasons Virgin Pulse is so successful is that the program was designed to include community support. “The beauty is people often have a hard time exercising or making other healthy changes on their own. When there is a set up for community interactions, with families included, you provide the supportive environment needed to be successful.”

The intention behind Virgin Pulse is to help employees make the health and wellbeing improvements they already want to make. Financial incentives and community support are compelling ways to help people begin to make lifestyle changes. “Every day we’re taking walks together and challenging each other. It just gets rolled into our lifestyle,” Elizabeth said. “And along the way, as you advance through various levels and track your healthy habits, you are able to earn up to $500 per year!”

Less than two years since its launch, roughly 70 percent of all employees have signed up for Virgin Pulse along with 26 percent of known spouses for a total of more than 8,300 people. Over the course of 2017, participants have averaged about 8,100 steps per month. The goal for the fourth quarter is to get those steps up to 8,600, edging ever closer to the legendary 10,000 steps.

“We get a lot of feedback on the impact EMHS’ wellness programs have made in people’s lives,” said Elizabeth. “We’re so fortunate to have these opportunities in our workplace.”

The Virgin Pulse program is available to all full and part-time employees and their spouses/domestic partners. Spouses and domestic partners are eligible for the same cash rewards. For more information on how to join, visit