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Bring Your Whole Self

Mission offers perks, wellness programs and more

By Kevin Litwin on February 12, 2018


PJ Mears is Senior Consultant for Mission’s Center for Leadership and Professional Development.

“I help leaders and teams become more effective through coaching and learning opportunities to help teams work toward higher achievement together,” he says. “One of my passions is helping people attain the goals they want to reach.”

PJ also advocates wellness, and he appreciates Mission’s holistic views focusing on the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cognitive well-being of team members.

“For example, when team members are taking a class, they won’t sit the whole time – we get them up and moving to have some fun and partner with one another.”

PJ and others in HR started a program to get people training for a 5K run. “About 20 people met that goal and some have continued on for a half marathon,” he says.


“Mission really promotes a culture of wellness,” says Laurie Stradley, Director of Wellness. “With each new year, we raise the bar in challenging our team members and increasing opportunities to be well. Wellness is kind of a new health insurance these days.”

Mission Health provides excellent benefits and offers programs to prevent illness and stay strong and healthy. This was recognized with a gold award as one of the Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles in 2017 presented by the National Business Group on Health.

“Our culture of wellness means we’re connected to our community as volunteers. For instance, our MLK Day of Service partnership with UNC Asheville and United Way gave me a chance to scrub walls at a local middle school to combat germs during flu season, to help keep the kids healthy and strong. I think Mission has one of the best overall wellness programs in the entire region.”


“I love it,” says Mandi Fritts, Mission Health’s pet therapy coordinator. “Pet therapy started here in 1999 with one basset hound that would visit the pediatric unit, and today there are 50 dogs and 56 dog owners in our program, Paws on a Mission.”

Pet therapy dogs and their owners are volunteers, visiting 35 different sites around Mission each week.

Patients on participating units simply tell their nurse or doctor that they want a visit, and one is scheduled. The four-legged volunteers and their owners also visit Mission staff members several times throughout the year, spreading cheer for special occasions.

“In total, we make visits to about 40,000 patients and staff members annually,” Mandi says. “We get wonderful comments – the visits are a great way to brighten a person’s day.”


As Mission Health’s Environmental Services Training and Education Coordinator, Diana Blackett appreciates a tool called StandOut. Launched throughout Mission in 2016, StandOut fosters a culture of ongoing dialogue between Mission employees and their leaders.

“I actually train and evaluate all the housekeepers at Mission Hospital, and StandOut helps me learn about the many personalities of my team members, as well as their strengths and motivations,” Diana says.

Team members complete an assessment prior to training for their jobs. Once training is completed, team members touch base with their team leaders weekly via computer, reviewing how their week went.

“From a manager’s perspective, it’s a great communication tool. It allows us to hear of all the wins and challenges of the week and to discover opportunities for departmental improvement,

in the end fostering a creative, holistic work environment.”


Neil Gurney’s father died years ago of a pulmonary embolism, and an autopsy found that his arteries were severely clogged. Wondering if the condition was hereditary, Neil and his siblings decided to get tested for cholesterol.

“My numbers were off the charts, so I went on medication,” says Neil, who serves as Director of Operations and Finance for the Mission Department of Philanthropy. “Previously, I was also put on blood pressure medication, so I knew it was time to make life changes.”

He signed up with the Mission Chronic Condition Management Program, and he’s getting results. Since enrolling in the program, Neil lost 20 pounds and decreased his blood pressure medicine by half, with a goal this year of decreasing it even more. “It’s excellent for team members on any long-term medication. Mission also provides a reduction in health premiums if you sign up with a coach.”

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