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Planetree employees really dig the benefits
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/3/2007 7:17 AM

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Jojy Schless does more than bring home the bacon.

She brings home broccoli, red peppers, Japanese eggplant, summer squash and snap peas, too.

Schless, a physician recruiter at Delnor-Commuity Hospital in Geneva, is one of many employees who tend to 12-by-12-foot gardening plots behind the hospital.

This year, she's shared tips with co-workers she wouldn't normally meet.

"I think it's really built a sense of community with people," the Geneva woman said. "The sharing between individuals that I didn't know before is really neat."

The 56 plots, which employees use for free, are one outgrowth of the hospital's affiliation with Planetree, a Connecticut-based group that promotes a model of patient-centered care.

Happy employees mean happier patients, and Delnor offers options to keep morale up and employee health costs down. Some examples:

• Getting paid to exercise. Staffers who join the Health and Wellness Center get a refund of their monthly fee in their paychecks if they hit the gym twice a week.

• A concierge service that arranges tasks such as on-site oil changes, finding movie tickets and making dinner reservations.

• A doctor and nurse recognition program.

• And the garden plots, which Schless believes will grow in popularity.

"I think word has gotten out. A lot of employees who aren't doing it this year plan to do it next year," she said.

Schless had too much shade at home for a bountiful harvest. She's also developed a new hobby that she can use to decompress during lunchtime or before heading home.

And, grow her own fresh vegetables to boot.

"You come (to your plot), can clear your mind and then go home," Schless said.