Operation Joy Spirit Week Brings Cheer to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Staff

Health care workers have been through so much over the last couple years, and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has found ways to incorporate fun and appreciation for staff during the pandemic. 

Operation Joy was created to help bring some cheer, show gratitude, and have fun events, giveaways, treats, and meals for colleagues. The colleague health and wellness program wrapped up its first annual Spirit Week from January 24–29, when employees were encouraged to dress up for the daily events. There was everything from Beach Day to Decades Day and Wear Your Favorite Sports Team Day.  

“We are so appreciative to have such a wonderful staff that has worked so hard with such compassion and care throughout this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michelle Rabideau, president of Saint Mary’s Foundation, which has funded Operation Joy through generous donations. “Operation Joy has a mission to uplift our colleagues because we know each one has been going above and beyond for many stressful months. We hope what we do by giving out treats, cookies, coffee, or hosting our Spirit Week helps brighten their day.”

In November 2021, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Organizational Disaster Plan was once again activated due to the large influx of COVID-19 patients, the acuity of patients, and the impact on the hospital’s staffing. Incident Command acknowledged the weariness, low morale, and fatigue of colleagues after nearly two years of pandemic mode, and expressed concern about general wellness and safety. 

In response, the Incident Command of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s formed a Colleague Wellness & Safety team with the purpose to boost morale and build resiliency to promote colleague and patient safety. Michelle Rabideau, a member of the Senior Leadership Team, was asked to serve as the Executive Owner of this group and formed a committee comprised of clinical and non-clinical colleagues to develop a plan. The result? Operation Joy.

The Operation Joy committee has passed out cookies, cocoa, and coffee for colleagues, does weekly department meals, and came up with the idea to host Spirit Week –similar to what high schools do — to help lift spirits and bring teams together. Operation Joy committee members and volunteers passed out Mercy Health trinkets like T-shirts, coffee mugs, candy, and more during the weeklong celebration.

“When we go around thanking colleagues and handing out gear or even something as simple as a cup of coffee or candy – they are overjoyed, thankful, and even sometimes emotional,” said Rachel Jonaitis, director of Volunteer Services at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “We never know when colleagues may be stressed, when they’ve had a bad day or experienced loss or sadness with a patient. Just something as simple as a smile and a ‘thank you’ goes so far.”

Spirit week wrapped up on Friday, Jan. 28 with a surprise visit from Michigan State University mascot Sparty. The giant green and white Spartan walked the floors of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s giving out high fives, taking photos, and spreading cheer to health care heroes.

“It was so much fun having Sparty here to wrap up our week,” said Rabideau. “Colleagues loved the surprise of seeing Sparty walking through the units just to say, ‘Thank you for all you do.’ Just to see the smiles on our colleagues faces was so worth it.” 

1 thought on “<strong>Operation Joy Spirit Week Brings Cheer to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Staff</strong>”

  1. I loved the spirit week I always wanted to do this at the surgical center and you have encourage me try spirit week


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