Since the day she was born, Joyce Hale, Hahn Loeser & Parks’ Human Resources and Wellness Coordinator, has endured pain, illness, and many hospitalizations due to a serious medical condition called lupus, a systemic auto-immune and inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
At one point in 2013, her team of specialists gave her just three years to live while discussing the need to file for disability and the pending loss of driving privileges. The stunning diagnosis caused her to deeply dive into the potential health and lifestyle changes she could make for herself. Her most significant decision was to switch to a completely whole-food plant-based diet.
Despite her condition, Hale exudes a natural instinct to help others. She imparted her health discoveries to the betterment of her co-workers at HLP and started a firmwide “HL Healthy Living” campaign. Multiple invited guest speakers (physicians, nutritionists, etc.) have visited the firm’s Cleveland office and broadcast their messages across the firm’s other five offices.
Over time, HL Healthy Living initiatives have included a comprehensive wellness fair, month-long wellness challenges on topics spanning hydration, physical activity, gratitude, stress/sleep impact, and functional nutrition (food as fuel and energy with a focus on performance and recovery as well as gut and brain health). A month-long “Laughter Is The Best Medicine” program is counted among employee favorites. She is currently developing this year’s first program, focusing on Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness.
Through Hale’s initiatives, the firm has earned wellness funds through United Healthcare for the past four years, resulting in improved resources and programs for the HL Healthy Living participants. Staff members have access to one-on-one wellness and nutrition coaching appointments with a certified professional. The knowledge and guidance received through the programs has helped participants and their family members improve their health, decrease medications, and even avoid proposed surgical procedures. Such personal gains ultimately lower insurance claims costs and increase the quality of life. Employees have shared their health and wellness victories with Hale over the years, bringing her tremendous joy and gratification. It also motivates her to reach an even wider audience.
Hale has made numerous trips to Washington D.C. to meet with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, serving as one of Ohio’s advocates for The Lupus Foundation of America until 2017. She participated in a team working to pass bills devoted to lupus research. Through the team’s efforts, for the first time in over 50 years, a medication was approved by the FDA specifically for the use of treating lupus. Hale also met with state representatives in Columbus, Ohio to discuss insurance reform, which enabled patients to have better access to medications.
Her personal journey has been featured in Be A Plant-Based Woman Warrior, a New York Times Best Seller cookbook in 2022, and in the January 16, 2023 issue of Woman’s World magazine, as many people with similar health roadblocks relate to her story. She has been a guest speaker for organizations in several states and on podcasts, which provided her the opportunity to work with auto-immune patients internationally and assist them as they begin their own wellness journeys.
Although Hale finds herself in a better place today than her crisis moment at the doctor’s office in 2013, she continues to navigate new challenges of injury and pain. However, she views any injury that has occurred over her past decade of wellness to be a mere temporary setback, compared to her 43 years of illness. While the story of her medical journey has encouraged and helped the masses, Hale’s day-to-day presence and upbeat philosophy is inspiring to her co-workers, family, and friends.