UCSF Community Members Take Part in First Wellness Expo

Laura Hutto receives a back massage from massage therapist Tim BlackLaura Hutto, left, a volunteer physical therapy teacher at UCSF and SFSH, receives a back massage from massage therapist Tim Black at the UCSF Wellness Expo on Jan. 27.

Gaining the tools to manage stress, feel better and lead a healthier and more productive life was the focus of UCSF’s first Wellness Expo on Jan 27.

“The introduction of coordinated wellness programming serves UCSF’s mission of advancing health worldwide by promoting a healthy and balanced environment for everyone who works, studies, teaches, and seeks care at our campus and medical center,” said Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, in an email announcing the event.

Free health assessments and lectures, such as “Food as Medicine,” “How to Outsmart Stress” and “Wii Fitness” were available to students, faculty and staff at the Milberry Union on the Parnassus campus.

While visitors perused healthy sugar free snacks, a buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables and sought nutritional counseling, the room with chair massages teemed with people hoping to indulge in a free session compliments of Campus Life Services.

“Massage provides stress reduction, reduces tension and helps people keep their bodies in check to stave off repetitive stress injuries,” said Tim Cowen, massage services manager for Campus Life Services. “We hope people will gain a better awareness of these benefits and our programs.”

Giselle Martin, left, management services officer in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, left, receives a hand massage from Rebecca Gilbert. At right, Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center, tests a strength ball at the first-ever Wellness Expo.

The initiative was coordinated by a Wellness Work Group initiated by Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann, and led by Rita Ogden, director of Ambulatory Services and Occupational Health and Tracey Gearlds, director of programs and services at Campus Life Services.

The group was tasked with helping the community access expert opinion and to leverage wellness resources already available at UCSF on three initial programs: smoking cessation, weight management and stress reduction. The work group then must measure the success of the program and contribute to long range planning for the UCSF community to continue promoting an environment of healthy living.

“We hope that these efforts have led to fostering and promoting a healthy and balanced environment for everyone at UCSF,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center, and executive sponsor of the work group. “We believe in empowering our UCSF community to lead healthier, more productive lives.”

Gearlds estimated that hundreds attended the event, deeming it a success. “It was a great experience and really well received,” she said. “It generated a lot of interested and excitement in a really important issue.”

Learning about healthy living doesn’t have to end when the expo is over. As part of UCSF’s continuing support for wellness initiatives, the campus launched the living website in 2009 which offers links to a variety of resources including campus fitness, nutrition counseling, health education such as smoking cessation and the latest wellness related news.

Photos by Susan Merrell