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This Portland Hospital System is Using Nature to Help its Employees Combat Stress

05/02/17 | View Comments

Workplace stress can be brutal. Its effects, researchers have repeatedly found, are both broad and deep, impacting our health, job performance — relationships. In fact, a 2015 working paper from Harvard and Stanford Business Schools reported the alarming fact that work-related stress accounts for more deaths than Alzheimer’s or diabetes. Yet, aside from the occasional gym membership, most US companies are doing little, if anything at all, to help their employees cope.

But there are exceptions. Legacy Health, which operates multiple hospitals, including Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, runs an innovative HR program that incorporates nature as a critical component of its efforts to combat workplace stress. It’s led by the hospital’s medical director of employee health, Dr. Minot Cleveland, who is serious about his commitment to getting Legacy’s employees — from surgeons to administrative staff — outside.

A Horticultural Therapist’s Influence

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