NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
December 4, 2007 • Volume 4 / Number 31 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Guest Commentary by Dr. John Mendelsohn

Going for the Gold

Dr. John Mendelsohn
Dr. John Mendelsohn
When the NCI Cancer Bulletin announced the CEO Cancer Gold Standard a few years ago, it was a new initiative of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, a nonprofit organization of corporate executives who have pledged to fight cancer in workplaces. NCI Director Dr. John Niederhuber has offered me this opportunity to provide additional firsthand insight on this initiative that is helping involve business leaders in a meaningful way in the fight against cancer.

Earlier this year, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center became the first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center to be accredited as a Gold Standard employer. I am proud of the effort our employees put forth to help us earn accreditation, and even more pleased by the potential life-saving and life-lengthening impact the Gold Standardcan have on our employees and their families. I also realize the synergy that can be created when cancer centers stand together with business leaders in this effort. That is why I encourage the directors of all NCI-designated cancer centers to embrace this unique opportunity on behalf of their employees and their institutions.

Today, I am delighted to report that under the leadership of Dr. Victor Dzau, Duke Medicine, which includes the Duke University Health System, Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing, recently received Gold Standard accreditation.

At the heart of the Gold Standard are three goals: prevention, early detection, and quality care. At M.D. Anderson, wellness is more than just activities and programming - it is part of our culture. Our 17,000 employees are our most important resource and we take pride in our employee benefits, wellness programs, and work-life balance opportunities that blend to create a "wellness-friendly" culture. The "Place…of wellness" at M.D. Anderson provides complementary services such as yoga, nutrition classes, tai chi, meditation, and aromatherapy to patients, their caregivers, and family members. Our Employee Health & Well-being Department provides programming and activities for employees and their families that build the knowledge, skills, and commitment it takes to be healthy.

As you walk around M.D. Anderson, you immediately feel the wellness culture. Throughout the institution, many of our waiting areas have aquariums that can help reduce stress levels. We have 12 "stress buster" stations with elliptical trainers, stretch trainers, and strength chairs that staff use to re-energize their day. Good nutrition, daily physical activity, and support for tobacco cessation are all core components of the Gold Standard. With more than 10,000 meals served each day, we work to provide nutritious choices for all who come to our campus. The Pyramid Plate program offers a selection of foods that have been found to decrease cancer risks. And our new Healthy Balance vending areas offer fruit, whole grain, low-fat, and low-calorie snack options. M.D. Anderson's campus is growing, and we use the old and new sky bridges linking our major buildings to provide miles of indoor walking opportunities.

The Gold Standard has also helped us remove many of the barriers for our cancer screening programs offered to employees. In January of 2008 we will launch a Health Risk Assessment to help employees better understand their health risk and the steps they can take to be healthy.

I am proud of our CEO Cancer Gold Standard effort and hope that by sharing a little of our story, others will be encouraged to "go for the gold."

Dr. John Mendelsohn
President
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center