Tenet Healthcare Leadership Experience Weiss’ Rooftop Farm

When leadership from Tenet Healthcare (Weiss’ parent company) traveled to Chicago for a series of meetings earlier this month, Weiss invited more than 70 people—leadership and CEOs from hospitals across the country, as well as the Chicago market—to tour the hospital’s Rooftop Farm.

The farm and Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss began in 2009. Nearly 30,000 visitors, including 700 children from local schools and Chicago Park District camps, have stopped by for tours. Soup kitchens and food pantries receive food donations regularly, and chefs from five restaurants in Uptown shop the market. The initiative also won Weiss the 2011 Governor’s Hometown Award.

But for the Tenet leadership, Weiss wasn’t planning just a tour. Attendees partnered with local refugee families who regularly tend their own crops on the rooftop. The families came to Weiss through the Heartland Health Alliance, and have been farming on the rooftop since the hospital opened farm plots to the public three years ago.

“Working with our community partners at Heartland gave Tenet leadership from all over the country such a unique opportunity. They were able to meet some of the men and women in Weiss’ community who have such interesting stories,” says Terry Tuohy, Director of Medical Education and Volunteerism at Weiss.

Tuohy is the mastermind behind Weiss’ Rooftop Farm, and adds, “We know [the refugee families] won’t always stay in our community. Uptown Chicago is the stepping stone to America for them. So if we can touch their lives just a little bit, we can help them to be healthy, eat healthy, and take proactive trips to doctors. Ultimately, we want to prevent illness.”

Through the team building experience with Heartland, Tenet leadership had a chance to take part in the farm and meet local families who benefit from it. Likewise, those local families were able to talk with and teach Tenet leadership.

Afterward, they enjoyed dinner—and beautiful views—on the farm.

Laughing, Tuohy says, “The only complaint was from some of our southern guests. They said the wind off the lake was a little chilly, but the rest of us loved it at 74 degrees. It was a gorgeous night, clear skies, and a beautiful sunset.”

Other attendees shared that they appreciated the unique networking setting, and especially loved giving back and connecting with the community. A few of the attendees had never planted in a garden before, so they welcomed getting their hands dirty after sitting in meetings.

“We’re a smaller hospital compared to other Tenet hospitals, but we do very unique things in a very unique community. We want our colleagues from across the country to know we exist, and they got it. They understood what was going on,” Tuohy said.