VCU Health
Richmond 2015

Gearing up for the

2015 UCI Road World Championships

September 19-27th, 2015

What does it take to provide medical coverage for an international sporting event?

what does it take?

What is Shift for Health?

Shift for Health is the theme for VCU Health's exclusive medical sponsorship of 2015 UCI Road World Championships. Our participation in this important international event is a clear reflection of the world-class healthcare that we provide.

Shift for Health will carry on long after the race is over by encouraging team members, their families and members of our community to make small shifts in their exercise, diet and lifestyle habits that will add up to big differences in their health and well-being.

Be a Shift Champion

Maybe you're not a world-class athlete. But you can still be a champion—a Shift Champion, that is.

Who are Shift Champions? They are VCU Health team members just like you. They are the people who swear chocolate is a vegetable. The ones who consider walking from the parking lot a major workout. But they are champions nonetheless—because they took one step to improve their health—and then shared their stories to inspire others to do the same.

Take a look at what these shift makers are doing. They are exercising more, eating better, stressing less or in some other way making a positive change toward a healthier tomorrow.

Take a look at what these
Shift Champions are doing.

They are exercising more, eating better, stressing less or in some other way making a positive change toward a healthier tomorrow.

Here's how you can

join the movement

and get involved

Make a Shift.

Choose one small change you can make to put you on the road to better health and wellness. Click the icons below to see a few examples:

Walk it off.

Start with 1,000 steps a day and build up to 10,000. Take the stairs. park in the back of the lot or deck. Take a walk break at lunch.

Hit the bottle.

Water, that is. Substitute one sugary drink a day with water.

Stress break.

Take five minutes each day to relax, unwind or meditate.

Snack attack.

Prepare healthy snacks and keep them close at hand. Try baby carrots, grapes, apples, popcorn or tree nuts.

Attitude adjustment.

Start each morning with an attitude of gratitude. Find the good in every person and every situation. You can't change the world, but you can change how you think about it.

Lead the way

Round up a few of your colleagues and create a Shift Challenge for your department. As a group, select one shift that everyone can make to improve the overall health of your team.

Make a plan. Make a commitment. Make it fun.

Download Shift for Health logos and templates from the Shift for Health Toolkit to use for flyers or e-blast to promote your program.

Shift for Health Toolkit


Barry Smart

Maintenance Supervisor, CHoR — Brook Road

Barry Smart lived up to his name when he made the wise decision to give up his pack-a-day-plus smoking habit. When he started having difficulty breathing, Barry knew it was time to make a shift for health. He starting taking the prescription drug Chantix®, and in January of this year, he and his wife both celebrated being smoke-free for a year. Barry feels better, sleeps better and has more control over his schedule and his day now that smoking no longer dominates is life. Having been inspired to quit by colleagues, Barry is happy to pay it forward by supporting anyone who is struggling to quit.


Brandon Myers

Sterile Processing Tech, VCU-CMH

Give a high five to Brandon! In one year he made a shift to improve his health. Brandon participated in his department's weight loss competition—and through healthy eating and exercise, he lost 100 pounds. In addition, this March he ran his first race—completing the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k in under an hour. Brandon recently completed the VCU Ask 5k in April.


Bruce Mercier

Administrator and Nurse Manager, Stony Point

Together, Bruce and Sara Lee volunteer as a certified "Dogs on Call" team. They have touched the lives of thousands of patients, family members, visitors and staff at VCU Health—spreading cheer, offering comfort and so much more. A study conducted by the VCU Center for Human-Animal Interaction found that spending time with a therapy dog provides many physical benefits—such as reducing stress and lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Every Sunday, Bruce and Sara Lee "shift the experience" of being in the hospital—making a difficult time just a little brighter for everyone they encounter.


Diane Stokes, RN

Nurse Resource Coordinator, Ambulatory Care

As accomplished as Diane was in her professional life, she felt that her personal wellness was woefully lacking. At her heaviest, Diane weighed 340 pounds. She was tired all the time and could barely walk 10 minutes without getting out of breath. Knowing that she needed to make a change, Diane started by making small shifts in her health—removing sodas from her diet, walking on the treadmill and keeping food and exercise journals. She soon lost 20 pounds, but didn't stop there. Diane maintained her healthy eating and started jogging. She ran a 5K, an 8K and then a 10K. In November 2014, after losing 150 pounds, Diane crossed the finish line after completing her first half marathon. The remarkable way that Diane took control of her health has inspired her mother and cousins to make their own shifts for health.


Elyse Harris

Medical Coder

In 2012, Elyse moved to Richmond from New York City and joined the team at VCU Health. Not long after that, her role as "daughter" began to shift to that of "caregiver." Elyse reached out to Eldercare Resources for guidance in making arrangements to care for her mother, who still lives in Manhattan. Caring for a loved one—whether a child or aging parent—can be overwhelming. But Elyse clearly demonstrates that achieving balance in work and family life is possible by tapping resources and being willing to seek support.


Emma Fields, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Achieving balance is no easy matter when your days consist of caring for cancer patients, teaching medical students and conducting research. Add to that being the mother of two toddlers and it seems like an impossible task. But Emma manages to keep work and her family life stable and thriving. VCUHS's Family Care Center gives her the comfort of knowing her children are safe, happy and close-by while she’s working. At home, Emma's maintains work-life balance by making little shifts for health—like jogging through the neighborhood with two small passengers in the jogging stroller.


John Duval

CEO VCU Hospitals and Clinics

In September 2014, John and about 40 members of VCUHS's "Rams that Ride" participated in Bike MS, the Multiple Sclerosis Society's annual fundraising biking event. Led by co-captains Jo Gable and Jalana McCasland, the team raised more than $30,000 for MS. But that wasn't the only benefit. John shifted into high gear for this worthy cause and completed the full 150-mile ride—which also helped him lose an initial 25 pounds. Looks like everyone was a winner!


John Le

Resident, Internal Medicine

Spending time enjoying outdoor activities is how John recharges. He and his brother Brian—who is also a resident—completed a seven-day canoe portage in Ontario, Canada. They paddled across lakes, carrying their canoes through the forest, camping along the way. This shift from the pressures of residency to the great outdoors provides John with a sense of balance and a fresh perspective, allowing him to return to work feeling renewed and re-energized.


Lauren Pagac

Registered Nurse

Lauren had a very compelling reason to improve her health—she wanted to set a good example for her 18-month-old daughter and be able to keep up with her little ball of energy. So she made several shifts for health. She joined Weight Watchers® and the gym, and every day—along with a group of her colleagues—she walks to work all the way from M lot, located across the river in Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood. Lauren and members of her team at work challenge each other by wearing Fitbits® and pedometers and even having impromptu "running of the stairs." She advises others, "Walk whenever you can, just get moving. Choose the healthier foods; it is true that once you give up junk food your cravings change; it's not easy, but it's worth it." Now 32 pounds lighter and able to walk five miles with ease, Lauren is a true Shift Champion.


Liza Bruce

Training Specialist

Despite the fact that she lost her vision and had to undergo kidney and pancreas transplants due to complications of diabetes, Lisa envisions a future of good health and vitality. Within three years of her transplant surgery, Lisa learned to hang glide and water ski. She and her husband, David, have biked 2,300 miles on a tandem bicycle. Liza, with support from her guide dog, Cooper, leads an active life. Every day she sets an example of positive, whole living and serves as a Shift Champion to inspire others.


Mark Baron, MD


Dr. Mark Baron has discovered lots of great benefits from shifting his commute and riding his bike to work every day. It is a wonderful way to get exercise, without adding time to an already busy day. It's great for the environment, too. Riding means that one less person is struggling to find a parking place at work. It saves money—lots of money. He didn't have to buy another car when his son went off to college. And best of all, cycling is fun. "Riding to work isn’t a chore—it’s pure pleasure."


Mary Elizabeth "Merv" Baldecchi, RN

Clinical Research Coordinator, Hume-Lee Transplant Center

Merv is a true warrior—overcoming some of life's biggest challenges. She personally faced a heart condition, breast cancer and shingles, and her youngest child struggles with a severe learning disability. Merv exercised regularly and considered herself fit, but she felt the need to shift her wellness priorities to reduce stress and cope with whatever else life throws her way. She attended an eight-week Mindfulness Class for Health Care Professions offered by VCU Health System. Now, Merv shares her gift of inner wellness by reaching out to women who are newly diagnosed with cancer. She thinks it's important to create the tools and achieve mindfulness when you are healthy, because "things are going to happen. Life is messy."


Nate Warner, MD

Resident, Internal Medicine

Running marathons. Completing triathlons. Cycling. These are all the ways Dr. Warner used to stay in great shape. And then along came his residency and regular workouts became a thing of the past. Now, he barely has time to grab a bite to eat and a few hours of sleep. But this fitness fanatic found a free and easy way to add a lot of small workouts to each day—now Dr. Warner takes the stairs. In fact, this shift maker encourages team members to do the same. His advice is simple: "Do it. If one person tries it, pretty soon more people will join in until the whole team is racing to the top."


Perry Taylor


At age 34, Perry and his family were left shaken and scared when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. While he was sick and unable to exercise, biking and yoga were the two things he missed the most. This brought a new focus to Perry's outlook on health and wellness. It's been more than two years since his last treatment and Perry once again rides his bike to work each day and participates in VCU's on-site yoga classes. He enjoys an hour of class and then continues to apply that mindset to all other areas of his life. Today, Perry expresses an abiding "attitude of gratitude"—thankful for the expert medical care and support he received at VCU Massey Cancer Center and for his renewed sense of health and well being.


Susan Miller, MD

Family Medicine

This year, 11 team members from Family Medicine made shifts for health by completing the Monument Avenue 10K—thanks to Susan, a true shift maker. For the past four years, Susan has not only encouraged her colleagues to train for the race, she also paid their registration fees. Due to a nagging knee injury, she is unable to participate, but Susan is there to see the runners and walkers off and to cheer for them at the finish line. She has even invited the team to her home for a healthy breakfast following the event.


Susan Reid

Financial Application Specialist

Surviving non-Hodgkin's lymphoma twice has not slowed Susan down one bit. In fact, it motivated her to do some pretty amazing things. Since 2005, Susan has raised more than $85,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Four years ago she decided to take on a new challenge—and shift her physical conditioning into high gear. Susan joined the LLS's "Teams in Training" and has completed seven half marathons to date. The "Team in Training" members start each weekly training session with a story of someone affected by blood cancer. Then the team members write that person's name on their hands. It is these stories that inspire Susan—just as Susan inspires so many others with her dedication and spirit.


Tricycle Gardens Farm Stand

The team at VCU Massey Cancer Center is helping cancer patients and their families shift to healthier eating. Patients now have easy access to fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables at the Tricycle Gardens Farm Stand. A mini-farmer's market is held each week at Massey—and thanks to the generosity of the McKesson Foundation, patients with SNAP/EBT cards are eligible to receive two dollars' of produce for the price of a one dollar SNAP/EBT.