LRH Partnering with Bedell Family YMCA to Improve Health of its Employees and Their Families
When Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) says their mission is to improve the health and well-being of people in the Iowa Great Lakes, they aren’t kidding around. To demonstrate that commitment, LRH recently partnered with the Bedell Family YMCA (YMCA) to start from within and improve the health of hospital employees and their families. LRH President and CEO Jason Harrington said, “We want to show people that we not only provide good care to patients and encourage healthy habits, but that we also practice what we preach and strive to live a healthy lifestyle ourselves.”
Between its partnership with the YMCA and LRH’s own financial investment, the program will allow all of its employees to purchase family memberships at the YMCA for $15 per month, a subsidized rate that is below 75 percent of the cost of a normal membership. The program also rewards employees that participate in YMCA activities 10 times per month by giving them $10 in Wellness Program Credits, to be used for YMCA fitness classes and training programs. Harrington said, “In addition to the hospital and staff contributions, the program is a great tribute to the YMCA’s commitment to employers by reducing the fee in exchange for a commitment of providing membership to all employees.”
Norm Johnson, CEO of the Bedell Family YMCA, noted, “The YMCA has a strong commitment to improving the health of the community. We have been developing a “Corporate Wellness Program” that encourages employers to provide program opportunities to their workforce. LRH is our first partner in rolling out this new initiative and we are anxious to get in front of other employers to tell our story.”
Physical activity is an important part of overall health and a way to reduce the likelihood of obesity or being overweight. Obesity is increasing at a startling rate nationwide, and in Iowa. Currently, approximately 67 percent of Iowa adults are at an unhealthy weight, and that will increase to about 77 percent by 2020. This trend has negative implications not only on quality of life, but on healthcare costs. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 31 percent of the expected overall increase in healthcare costs from 2005-2020 will be due to the projected increase in obesity and being overweight.
Harrington said, “The statistics are alarming. We want to do what we can for our staff and their families to live a quality, healthy life. We also want to do our best to be a productive and efficient organization by decreasing absenteeism due to illness and by decreasing health care costs as much as possible. We know that the payback will take several years and it’s what stops many employers from investing. We’re fully committed.”
LRH has demonstrated their commitment to improving the health and well-being of their staff by creating an Employee Health and Wellness Committee. Consisting of staff from several departments within the organization, the committee developed a wellness program for LRH staff to participate in all year long. Nearly 150 employees participate in the program, tracking the number of minutes they exercise, the number of vegetables they eat, and the number of ounces of fluids they drink each day. Committee member and LRH Director of Surgical Services Robyn Paulsen said, “We take a multi-faceted approach to it. Besides eating right and exercise, participants have an opportunity to test their blood with a wellness screening that determines their cholesterol, thyroid, and immunity levels. They also have biometric testing, a walking fitness test, and body mass index testing available. We provide health-related educational opportunities and recommend participants receive their age-appropriate health screenings. We also encourage people to take care of their mental health by doing stress management, relaxation exercises, and volunteer work in the community, such as yesterday’s Dickinson County Trails clean-up.”
Harrington added, “Health is important to everyone at Lakes Regional Healthcare. We’ve done a lot internally to promote healthy habits. The partnership with the YMCA is a great way to broaden our efforts and encourage increased physical activity and is a win-win situation for all involved – Lakes Regional Healthcare, the Bedell Family YMCA, about 600 people that make up our staff and their family members, and our community.”