Back to Health for West Virginia and the World

Change comes from within

Our responsibility as West Virginia’s Land Grant University is to use the power of knowledge and human connection to lift up people everywhere in our state.

But as they say on airplanes, in an emergency you should put on your own oxygen mask first, before you attempt to help others. You can’t be much help if you gasping for air.

That’s why I’ve asked a group of leaders from across WVU Medicine and the Health Sciences Center – and outside our campus – to join the new Quality of Life Initiative. Their charge is to cultivate an environment of wellbeing, healthy living and learning for students, faculty, and employees on our campus through experiential programs, healing attitudes, and health promoting spaces built on a foundation of mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude.

Our focus as an institution has long been on the care of people when they become ill. Although that is a vital part of our mission, it is inadequate to the challenges we face in our state. We must also focus on achieving and maintaining wellness – and start by changing our own campus community into a healthier place. To change the culture from sick care to well care we will use both grass roots and leadership-driven approaches. Our work will be measured and evaluated so that successful activities can be identified and replicated.

The Quality of Life Initiative Steering Committee includes Marcia DeMarco, Tim Povenski and Cassie Stacy of the HSC; Colleen Harshbarger of WELL WVU; Dave Harshbarger of the Wellness Office; Professor Emeritus Bill Reger-Nash of the School of Public Health; and Dr. Michael Brumage of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.  Together they have recruited six workgroups around our shared goal of transitioning from sick care to well care:

  • Wellbeing (led by Colleen and Dave Harshbarger)
  • Mindfulness (led by Mike Brumage and Bill Reger-Nash)
  • Safe Environment (led by Dan Harris, Kevin Hamon, Jamie Kosik and Dan Shook)
  • Research (led by Douglas Myers and Alfgeir Kristjansson)
  • Branding and Marketing (led by Tony Condia, Angela Caudill and Bill Case)
  • Space and Design (led by Shelley Johnson and Tim Povenski)

Several activities have already been launched. The Space and Design group is working on an update to the garden area at the front entrance to HSC; a piano will be placed in the Pylons lobby and concerts are being planned for Fall; several areas will be updated with murals and WVU-themed branding. The workgroups will involve volunteers from across WVU Medicine and HSC, along with external supporters, to develop and implement other activities.

You will be hearing more about the Quality of Life Initiative over the next few months. If you have an idea, or would like to join one of the workgroups, please contact Marcia DeMarco in the HSC Administration office.