Free program focuses on healthy workplaces

By JOHN SEASLY
Herald Staff Writer

Memorial Hospital on Thursday introduced a new program designed to help Dubois County businesses create a healthier work environment, as well as potentially reduce health care costs in the process.

The Corporate Champions program offers strategic guidelines on how to improve employees’ health options at work, in 16 categories. Each category has three levels of improvements: good, better and best.

Categories include strategies for biking, breast-feeding support, diabetes prevention, healthy eating and tobacco cessation.

In the tobacco cessation category, for example, the “good” option would be to offer employees tobacco-free support through the Indiana Quit Line and community cessation classes. Two “better”options would be to also offer cessation classes onsite and to pay for cessation products for employees. The “best” option would be to do all of this, plus enact a tobacco-free workplace policy.

This category specifically is a target area for adult Hoosiers, of whom about 24 percent smoke, according to 2005 to 2011 data from the 2013 County Health Rankings. About 17 percent of Dubois County adults smoke, according to these rankings.

Quitting smoking, said Memorial grant coordinator Teresa Sorgius, is “the No. 1 preventable thing we can do to help people be healthier.” Dubois County also has an adult obesity rate of 32 percent, above the state average by a point and 7 percent above the national benchmark, according to the county health rankings.

Thirty-six representatives of area organizations attended the announcement of the program at Memorial Southside Office. The first goal of the Corporate Champions program, Sorgius said, is to sign up 25 companies by June 25. Each company should select three categories in which it can improve health and commit to one of the “good,” “better” or “best” options in each of them.

Among those at the program announcement was Kathy Kugler, staff development coordinator at Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper.

“I’m sure we’ll do this,” she said. The nursing home already is trying to make healthy changes, she said, by offering more nutritious snack and lunch options and an exercise room for employees.
In addition to improved employee health, companies potentially could see a reduction of health care costs and decreased absenteeism, Sorgius said.

The Corporate Champions initiative is one aspect of a $3 million community transformation grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Wellborn Baptist Foundation in Evansville. The foundation is administering the 2012 grant through programs in Dubois and six other southern Indiana counties: Spencer, Pike, Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick.

Kimball International joined the program last year through the Corporate Champions initiative started in Vanderburgh County. Spokesman Marty Vaught said the company has been looking at ways to improve employee health options in general. Employees can sign up to use one of about a half-dozen walking treadmills spread throughout Kimball offices. Each treadmill has a computer attached to it, and employees can log onto their accounts and work while they walk.

“We’ve been informally doing a lot of these things for many years. This program is a way to formalize it,” Vaught said.

Any business interested in the program is asked to email Sorgius at tsorgius@mhhcc.org.

Contact John Seasly at jseasly@dcherald.com.




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