(NEWTON, KS) ─ Newton Medical Center (NMC) is one of 25 Wichita-area businesses recognized as “Healthiest Employer” by the Wichita Business Journal (WBJ) during ceremonies February 17 at the Wichita Hyatt Hotel.
“The Healthiest Employers Awards recognize the companies that make wellness a reality for their employees and bottom lines,” stated Bill Roy, WBJ editor in a special section of the February 17, 2011, issue of the business newspaper. “It begins with a commitment to influence employee behavior,” he added.
The winners were selected based on the results of a 75-question online survey and proprietary scoring system created by Indianapolis-based Healthiest Employers LLC. The survey covered six areas of workplace wellness: cultural and leadership commitment; foundation components; strategic planning; communications and marketing; programming and intervention; and reporting and analysis.
NMC’s administration initiated the hospital’s worksite wellness program in early 2008 to improve the health of its employees and their dependents, resulting in reduced health care cost for the self-insured hospital. The NMC Wellness Action Team was organized to implement the early stages of the program. A full-time healthy-lifestyle coach, Jodi Hearn, started working directly with employees on site in late 2009.
Health risk assessments (HRA) were offered for individual employees. More than 300 employees voluntarily participated in the first assessment. The on-site healthy-lifestyle coach tracks participation and uses aggregate data from the annual assessments to develop an annual plan for each year and to gauge the success of the program. Employees are allowed to pursue wellness activities on company time during their scheduled work shifts.
“The top three wellness programs at NMC are health risk assessments; “Maintain, No Gain Holiday Weight Loss Challenge,” which attracted 196 employees; and the Health and Wellness Fair,” Hearn stated. “Currently 80 percent of the employees participate in the monthly challenges or the health risk assessments.”
Rewards for participation or goal achievement are used as incentives. They may be as simple as a snack coupon for a healthy item in the hospital’s Sunflower Café or a coffee mug with the challenge logo, to a diet and fitness journal or cash.
“Incentives were donated by local businesses such as helmets, gloves, and safety reflectors for the “Bike to Work Day,” and pedometers for the “America on the Move challenge” Hearn pointed out.
One of the measureable benefits of the Employee Health and Wellness program is the reduction of employee sick days.
“From our HRA in January to our HRA in November of 2010, our less-than-four-sick days taken in the past 12 months went from 291 to 234, and four or more sick days taken by employees went from 51 to 34,” said Todd Tangeman, Human Resources director for NMC. Healthy lifestyle coach Hearn is part of the hospital’s HR department.
Members of the NMC Wellness Action Team are Malea Gonzalez, Troy Slabach, Tony Wahl, Barb Darcey, Jason Adams, Andrew Parsons, Beth Selzer, Jodi Hearn, and Todd Tangeman.