Wins Platinum Award from American Heart Association
Sentara Healthcare, every division and all its hospitals, has been recognized as the first-ever Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company by the Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Heart Association’s Start! movement for implementing health and wellness programs for its employees in an effort to drive down healthcare costs and help employees live healthier lives.
“At Sentara, our mission is to improve health every day not only for our patients, but our employees as well. In 2008 we implemented a comprehensive health and prevention program called Mission: Health and we’ve seen a significant increase in participation in all our programs, but especially the walking and eating right programs,” states Jenny Jones, Director of Human Resources at Sentara Healthcare.
Some of Sentara’s most popular Mission: Health programs include: Healthy Heart, a program focused on heart health; Get Off Your Butt: Stay Smokeless for Life, a program designed to stop using tobacco to benefit your health; Eating for Life, a program that helps to develop healthy eating and exercise habits; Yoga, stretching and strengthening exercises; and WalkAbout with Healthy Edge, a structured walking program.
The American Heart Association’s Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority. Platinum-level employers offer employees physical activity options in the workplace, increase healthy eating options at the worksite; promote a wellness culture in the workplace, implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture; and demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.
American employers face increasing healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity that cost an estimated $225.8 billion a year. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. Additionally, a study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals could gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed.
“Sentara partnered with our health insurance plan, Optima Health, to coordinate and oversee the health and prevention programs. By offering these services to our employees, we’ve been able to change corporate culture,” comments Jones.