County employees work toward better health
Worksite wellness program now more comprehensive
Last week, the Walsh County Commission put the stamp of approval on a more comprehensive Walsh County Worksite Wellness program for county employees. Proposed by two Walsh County Health District staff, the program aims to keep wellness as a priority for participants each and every month.
Walsh County tobacco coordinator Stacy Langen is spearheading the improved wellness program, assisted by Walsh County Health District director Wanda Kratchovil. Langen is working to improve upon the current wellness program that promotes physical activity and proper nutrition for county employees, making it proactive on a monthly basis.
“We are trying to take the approach of promoting the program so health and wellness is on employees’ minds each and every month,” Langen commented.
Participation in the wellness program is not mandatory for county employees, but Langen is looking to make the program more appealing. She is planning different activities each month that will keep her co-workers engaged. Additionally, through Langen’s efforts, county commissioners agreed to reward county employees with eight hours of paid time off for successful participation in the wellness program. That’s a plus Langen is banking on to put county employees on the road to improved health.
Kratchovil stressed that participation by a greater percent of county employees is the key to the success of the wellness program.
“In the past we maybe did three or four activities throughout the year and only about a fourth of the staff was participating,” Kratchovil said. “That is why we were motivated to make a change and take a more comprehensive approach. We realize the more staff we get involved, the better the chance we will impact health.”
To receive the paid time off, an employee must complete at least one activity a month, often including an assignment, for 10 out of 12 months. Langen will be logging all monthly wellness activities and those who complete them. At the end of 2014, any county employee who met the program requirements will receive a certificate of completion they must present to their supervisor to receive the paid personal day.
“As a big proponent of a healthy lifestyle I’m hoping this will be a good use of taxpayer money,” commissioner Karen Anderson commented. “It will be a great advantage for the county and taxpayers when employees take responsibility for their wellness. Good health means less time away from work.”
“When people are healthier, they are more motivated and perform better on the job,” commissioner Ernie Barta added. “It is good to offer the program to our employees in hopes they will participate. We as a commission care about our employees.”
For the month of January, Langen has already emailed county employees information on studying nutrition labels. She is educating them on the difference between 100 percent whole grain products and foods listed only as whole grain, that actually contain refined grains as well. To complete January’s activity, participants are to purchase an item bearing the 100 percent whole grain stamp, affix the stamp to an activity sheet that lists the item purchased and turn it in to Langen.
Langen has etched topics ranging from physical and mental health to personal safety into her monthly planner for the wellness program. In February – which is National Heart Health Month, she is planning activities that promote a healthy heart. She plans to offer CPR training, wellness screening clinics including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks; weight management and exercise activities, and possibly have a month when the program encourages blood donation.
“This office (Walsh County Health District) is very excited and pushing the new program a little farther encouraging participation more than in the past,” Langen commented. “By providing monthly activities and education we are teaching people to improve their health through personal change.”