South Florida Hospital News
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December 2004 - Volume 1 - Issue 5


Baptist Health and JFK Medical Center Named Among 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers

Successfully balancing a family and a career remains a constant challenge for women. Fortunately, in todayís workplace many employers are realizing the increasing demands placed on Working Mothers and are adapting jobs and working environments to fit their specific needs.

Working Mother magazine recently recognized two hospitals in South Florida for their outstanding dedication to Working Mothers by naming them to the annual list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers."

JFK Medical Center and Baptist Health are, in fact, the only two employers in the entire state of Florida to be named to the prestigious list. Among the areas of focus of this yearís list was an increase in attention to employee health and the offering of wellness programs.

Simone Santos knows just how lucky she is to be employed as a nurse at JKF. In addition to a career she enjoys, she takes care of her banking on-site, gets her car detailed and her clothes dry-cleaned without leaving hospital property. She also saves time by mailing packages at the JFK Ship Away Center, exercises before or after her shift and can get meals to go at the cafeteria.

All of these conveniences help ease some of the daily stress she feels as a single working mom with limited time. She calls her employer of more than three years a "little metropolis."

"This is not the first hospital Iíve worked for, but itís definitely the one where Iím most comfortable. The other ones just donít offer the incentives. Some are even counterproductive," she says.

Not only has JFK been pivotal in helping Santos balance work and family, it also helped her mother, Julie Stewart, who worked at JFK as a nurse case manager for 27 years, balance hers. Santos and Stewart are only one of many "two-generation" working moms at JFK.

And Santos says, the hospital is not just dedicated to its employees, itís also dedicated to the community. When the hurricanes hit the South Florida area, JFK set up free child care in conference rooms for parents who had to return to work and had no place to take their children. Santos says doing something as small as offering a few hours of free childcare made worlds of difference to many Working Mothers.

Melanie O'Neill, R.N., from Mariners Hospital in Tavernier, works out in the Mariners Wellness Center, which is free for employees and open to the community. Melanie is a Medical-Surgical Unit nurse who has four children - Josh, 22; Jessica, 18; Matthew, 14; and Connor, 5. Melanie has been with Mariners for more than four years. She attended and graduated from nursing school while working at Mariners. Melanie commits her time to Mariners above her job through volunteer committee work and has been promoted up the clinical nurse ladder program.

Another benefit Santos takes full advantage of is priority placement at the JFK Medical Center Charter School, located nearby. Santosí children are among the 45 percent of students at the charter school who are children of JFK employees. In addition to an excellent education, the school also offers extended care hours that coincide with the varied shifts of many of the hospital employees.

JFK also offers compressed workweeks, usually consisting of three 12-hour days, a generous paid time off policy and an increase in adoption benefits to all employees. Santos says JFK is always sensitive to the needs of Working Mothers and the hospital does what it can to ensure its employees are healthy and happy.

Brian E. Keeley, President and CEO of the non-profit healthcare organization Baptist Health, says itís an honor for Baptist to be included in this list for the 12th time in the 19 years it has been published.

"Weíve gone beyond offering important tradition services such as childcare to include the services that Working Mother applauds this year, such as our employee health program-Wellness Advantage."

This distinctive program offers employees support for staying healthy including free fitness rooms, exercise classes, health screenings an educational programs. Nearly 3,000 Baptist employees use the fitness centers. Other perks of working at Baptist are compresses work weeks, childcare, telecommuting, flextime, adoption benefits and assistance in career advancement.

Kelly Quartermaine, a senior secretary at Homestead Hospital, one of the five hospitals in the Baptist Health system, takes her five-month-old daughter to work with her and drops her off at the in-house day care center. Quartermaine spends lunch breaks with her infant daughter and was even able to breast-feed her as needed.

Kelly Quartermaine and her 5-month old daughter, Karleigh.

When her older child was on summer break, Quartermaine brought her part-time to the day care also. She says the comfort and convenience of having her baby close by during the day enables her to concentrate on her work without worry or anxiety.

"The supervisors here are really understanding. They donít give you a hard time if your child is sick or if you need some flexibility," she says, adding that when she was on bedrest the last month of her pregnancy, she was not made to feel guilty about missing work.

Lois Exelbert, a longtime employee of Baptist, remembers a time when working women were not so fortunate. When she began working as a medical/surgical nurse at Baptist Health 33 years ago, perks like an exercise facility or flextime were nearly non-existent.

"Job sharing was unheard of back then," she says, adding that Baptist was the only hospital in the area progressive enough to offer day care.

But as the years passed and Exelbert became the mother of four children, she saw many changes in her employer, changes that enabled her to continue to work in a field she loved while raising a young family.

Today, as the director of the diabetes care center, Exelbert says Baptist is extremely supporting of all of its working mom employees and enables women to hang on to their careers while caring for young children.

"Regardless of what job role you have, people are encouraged to work to whatever capacity they can. Theyíre not forced to choose between work and family."

And this is evident by the fact that nearly one-third of the 10,000 employees at Baptist are Working Mothers. In addition, a full seventy-six percent of all employees are women, including 69 percent of the organizationís front-line manager and supervisors, 74 percent of middle managers, 49 percent of executives and 45 percent of top corporate executives.

"Baptist is definitely a great place to work. Its overall philosophy is a bit unique. Not all employers are as easy to work for," says Exelbert.

Working Mother Editor-in-Chief Susan Lapinksi says the companies on this list know that healthy employees mean healthy bottom lines. In turn, absenteeism is low, productivity is high and loyalty is strong.

For companies that arenít on the list, Working Mother offers many tips on how to transform a workplace into a more family friendly environment. Check out how at

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