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Florida RN Helps Corrections Officers Shape Healthier Lifestyles

Vilka Moonsammy, RN

Vilka Moonsammy, RN, BSN, a pediatric oncology nurse at the Florida Hospital for Children’s Walt Disney Pavilion, has a career that allows her to help others in need of care and comfort. But Moonsammy also found a vehicle that would allow her to help outside the work setting. Moonsammy became a facilitator in the CREATION Health program in Orlando, along with seven other nurses at Florida Hospital. The program involves meeting once a week for eight weeks with a group — in this case 12 corrections officers — to teach eight core principles for better living.

The nurses supported and guided each other through the eight weeks, as each one guided their participants to better living habits. “Being a corrections officer is a stressful job,” says Moonsammy, who met with her group in her garage. “Some group members had diabetes and high blood pressure. Some would get angry without cause because of the pressure of their jobs. I taught them they have a choice to eat well and feel better. The program teaches them in small steps how to change their lifestyles.”

The program uses the acronym CREATION as a tool for teaching, with each letter standing for each lesson, and is used along with a book to highlight each week’s teachings and motivational CDs.

The C stands for Choice. During this class, participants were given a quick synopsis of what the program will entail and what the goals are, which are to improve their health, live longer and make better choices. “Even small choices or changes can be significant,” Moonsammy says.

Week 2 focused on the importance of getting enough Rest. “Too little or too much sleep can be a significant problem,” she says. “Figuring out people’s sleep habits can show why they don’t feel rested,” she says. “We discussed what they’re doing before bedtime that might affect their sleeping, such as laying in bed when they’re not tired, which is a bad idea, and to try aromatherapy and other methods for achieving a restful night’s sleep.”

During Week 3, the Environment class, Moonsammy and her group discussed home and workplace environmental stressors, and what to do to make both places more peaceful. Activity week involved discussing ways to stay active that don’t necessarily involve hitting the gym. “I would ask them if they take walks and enjoy nature, and I’d encourage them to do so.”

Week 5 focused on Trust in God, although the lessons encompassed general spirituality and healing.

The week that followed focused on Interpersonal relationships. “Do they have support? Do they have someone they can talk to if they need to?” Moonsammy says.

Near the end of the eight weeks, the Outcome class focused on attitude. “A good attitude, generally speaking, can influence your feelings of hope. I’m not saying that life isn’t difficult, but a good attitude helps in just about any situation.”

Week 8 focused on Nutrition — including the obvious. “Even if people know they shouldn’t eat fried foods, many still eat them, which is why this was a challenging class,” she says. “But eating healthy is not about eliminating everything; it’s about doing things in moderation.”

Six weeks after the program ends, participants are sent follow-up questionnaires to gauge their progress and thoughts on the program.

Many of the program’s ideas had long been practiced by Moonsammy herself. “The classes taught outlooks and philosophies on life that I already followed,” Moonsammy says. “I was excited to be able to teach it to others.”

By | 2020-04-15T14:23:18-04:00 May 3rd, 2010|Categories: Regional, South|0 Comments

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