Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Overton Brooks VA opens Employee Gym
Overton Brooks VA Medical Center unveiled its new Employee Gym in a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Sept. 26. Medical center staff and volunteers crowded the hallways and the gym to attend the event as well as sign up for access.
“This project would not have been possible without the help and support of numerous departments and individuals,” Dr. Moona Tanga, Occupational Health Program and
Employee Wellness Program Medical Director and MOVE Champion Physician, said. “This truly was a team effort and really exemplifies how we can get things done as a team at OBVAMC.”
Dr. Tanga, and her staff pitched the idea of an Employee Gym two years ago to medical center leadership as a result of health statistics released by Veterans Integrated Service Network 16, an administrative region that includes Overton Brooks VA.
“We have all heard stories of people who wait all their lives to retire, and then we hear of their passing, much too soon after they have retired,” Dr. Tanga said. “It occurred to me that most of us don’t take the time to stay ‘fit’ during our working years, so when retirement comes, our health has suffered greatly.” “With this in mind, the idea of trying to give employees an ‘on station’ area where they could get some exercise, and improve their overall health, was born.”
Although medical center leadership was on board with the idea, Dr. Tanga says her staff had to overcome space and funding issues before the gym could become a reality.
“Fortunately for all of us, space was eventually granted,” Dr. Tanga said. “But still on the table, was the even bigger issue of funding the Employee Fitness Center. Then, through a small miracle, Overton Brooks VA received a large anonymous donation that they were able to utilize to purchase new gym equipment for the Veterans. This enabled us to utilize their ‘previously owned’ equipment in our gym. We were also able to purchase additional equipment with money awarded from the VACO for piloting and achieving excellent results in the MOVEmployee program.”
Toby T. Mathew, Interim Medical Center Director, Overton Brooks VA, also provided remarks at the ceremony.
"I encourage all of our employees to take time, when they can, to use the gym,” Mathew, said. “This is a great facility.”
Before they could access the gym, employees had to fill out a medical screening paperwork and receive a key code for entering the gym from VA police. Charles Cao, kinesiotherapist, Overton Brooks VA, also led employees through a guided tour of the gym, explaining rules and how gym equipment should be used. Any employee who did not sign up for the gym on opening day will have to complete these three steps to have access.
During the ceremony, Dr. Tanga said a special thank you for her staff members who were continually involved in the process for more than two years — Jennifer Albritton Bowen, Health Behavior Coordinator; Charles Cao, Kinesiotherapist and Emily Walker, Dietitian.
Now that the gym is open, employees have an additional resource to stay healthy. Veterans have a gym of their own on the ninth floor with more square footage and new equipment. The older equipment now occupies the employee gym in the basement along with some new equipment.
“This project would not have been possible without the help and support of numerous departments and individuals. This truly was a team effort and really exemplifies how we can get things done as a team at OBVAMC,” Dr. Tanga said.