Most participants of Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center’s WellnessWorks program would agree that they feel better, learned a lot, and changed lifestyle behaviors for the better. While their journey toward wellness was challenging and required sacrifice, they believe it was ‘well’ worth it. While one really can’t put a price on good health, Saint Elizabeth’s offered a financial incentive that kept 72 employees motivated throughout the year to stay focused and committed.
Just before Christmas, Saint Elizabeth’s Wellness Committee members Paula Thompson and Jim Root played Santa Claus and presented employees with their wellness awards. Employees earned between $100 and $250 for achieving core, nutrition, and exercise goals.
“Our goal was to develop a worksite wellness program that offered flexibility so employees at any point along the wellness continuum could participate,” explains Paula Thompson, registered dietitian. “Our bronze, silver, and gold levels encouraged entry-level and veterans alike to gain health benefits without facing insurmountable challenges.”
Serving as the foundation of the program were core requirements. Based on research and numerous studies, key action steps have been identified as critical to early intervention and prevention. Those are: getting an annual flu shot, physical/well exam, and dental check-up, and participating in Saint Elizabeth’s annual Well Screen (lipid panel, blood glucose draw, blood pressure check, health risk assessment, and personal consultation). Completing these four core requirements offered a cash incentive of $50. If employees wanted to take their commitment to the next level and earn more cash, they set exercise and nutrition goals and logged their progress.
Accountability is an important component of the program. Logging, which may be difficult for some, is the best way to create new habits and long-term behavior change. It also builds a greater awareness of what employees eat and how active they are.
“Our program helps employees take personal responsibility for their health,” adds Jim Root, VP of Human Resources. Those who have participated in WellnessWorks in the past have reduced modifiable risk factors over a five-year period. Overall, Saint Elizabeth’s wellness participants have experienced a 67% reduction in high risk total cholesterol, 36% reduction in high risk LDL cholesterol, and 56% reduction in pre-diabetes. We are also doing all we can as an organization to reduce or at least maintain our cost for health care. An investment in wellness can bring organizations a 6:1 return – for every dollar spent on wellness, we can benefit from up to a $6.00 savings in claims, absenteeism, and lost productivity.“
Saint Elizabeth’s sees great value in a strong commitment to workforce wellness. So much so, that it has taken it on the road. During the past few months, Wellness Committee members and Laboratory staff have partnered with several area businesses to provide Well Screens for their employees. Saint Elizabeth’s hopes the growth of WellnessWorks within its own organization and among other businesses continues as health reform focuses more attention on the importance of prevention.