For Annalia Bucknor, occupational health is public healthSunday, November 07, 2021
AS a child, Annalia Bucknor had an intense curiosity for science. So there was little surprise that after excelling at Bellefield High School, she chose to study nursing at The University of the West Indies. After obtaining a master's in public health, she would spend six years as a nurse at Andrews Memorial Hospital, where she stood out among her peers, receiving several accolades for her performance.
In her quest for a new challenge, Bucknor moved on to medical sales, but the dynamism of nursing still resonated with her, and she started to plot a return to her first love. “People are at the core of what you do as a nurse, and I missed that,” she said.
Now, as occupational health advisor and office services manager at Red Stripe, Bucknor is a part of the team driven to optimise health and wellness for 369 people, and she couldn't be happier. When asked about the transition from public health to occupational health, Bucknor succinctly replied, “Quite simply, occupational health is public health.”
At the time it became part of global corporate lingo, occupational health was initially focused on the framework for safe conditions and environments for workers regardless of job or industry. However, the term has since evolved to consider everything from the design of workspaces to mental health.
“Red Stripe is a trendsetter for occupational health,” said Bucknor. ''Brewing a Better World is our sustainability platform; it is the prism through which we view all that we do and is aligned with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our approach to occupational health is inspired by Goal 3, regarding 'Good Health and Well-being: To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages'. That's a huge ambition but a necessary one.”
Executing that pledge is Bucknor's mission, and with her expertise in health education and health promotion, she couldn't be more suited for that role.
“Now more than ever, mental health should be a priority for companies of any size. So, for example, my team provided multiple sessions on coping with and navigating the pandemic, including seminars for parents on home-schooling,” Bucknor explained. “Innovation is hard-wired into the Red Stripe operational fabric, so I get to develop new ways to inspire our employees to live and work with balance.”
Bucknor now has a new playground for her ideas with Red Stripe's recently renovated employee facilities, including state-of-the-art canteen, a high-tech sports bar, and a multipurpose sports arena complete with a jogging track, basketball/netball court and football field. “This is going to be a great place to support our employees to fill out their lives with physical activity and social interactions,” she said.
“Resilience is perhaps the essential character trait we need to thrive today. I love that my job is about helping people unlock their strengths and their passions to make them not just better employees, but better parents, better people,” she added. “At its core, nursing is about transformation, and I am still drawing on those principles I learned early in my career even today.”
When asked about a memorable moment at Red Stripe, Bucknor was quick to say, “Let me share a story with you!” During her first few weeks, she met a young man who told her she looked familiar. She explained that she was a new hire working in the occupational health department, and that's when the lightbulb went on for him: she was one of the nurses who treated him years before when he was a patient at Andrews Memorial. He thanked her profusely for her kindness, bedside manner, and attentiveness and told her how she positively impacted his recovery. He was glad that she was now a part of the Red Stripe family. How did that interaction make her feel? She responded: “If I had to do it all over and choose another career, I would not.”