Working as a registered nurse, I have the opportunity to help improve the work/life balance of nearly 4,000 health system employees. Since taking the role of wellness coordinator for Freeman Health System in 2002, I have developed a wide array of programs, with the assistance of our wellness committee, to empower Freeman employees to reach their personal goals.
As we see worksite wellness programs across the country, shifting from traditional wellness that looks primarily at the physical aspects of wellness to one that focuses on total well-being, we are changing our focus as well. This year we created a wellness quest team with the mission of inspiring total well-being by creating opportunities and encouraging employees to improve and maintain their quality of life.
I am blessed to have a job to come to each day that I love. I feel privileged to assist our employees with their wellness journey. In addition to providing wellness offerings for Freeman employees, I consult with area corporations and assists them in planning and implementing their own wellness programs.
1. Professional Development
Describe your investment in your own professional development.
Graduated from MSSU ADN Program May 1983
Obtained my RN License July 1983
b. Certifications achieved
Cooper Institute Health Promotion Director Workshop in 2003 and Coaching Healthy Behaviors Workshop in 2007
c. Academic Honors received, awards won, recognition received (at the organizational, program, or individual level).
• WELCOA’s Well Workplace Gold Award in 2011 in recognition of outstanding achievement in health promotion
• AHA Platinum Level Fit Friendly Company Award 2012 - 2015
• AHA Community Innovation Award 2011 - 2015
• WELCOA Faculty 2014
• 2015 Healthcare Award: Excellence in Connecting Health to the Community from the Missouri Council For Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN)
• Joplin Regional Business Journal 2016 Salute to Health Care Awardee
d. What made you decide to go into the field?
In 1999, I started my own wellness journey. I was overweight and decided I needed to take care of myself. To this end, I joined our local Y, and over six months lost 50 pounds. I felt great for the first time in years! The full-time wellness coordinator position became available in 2006, so I jumped at the chance to take on this role.
e. Which degree or certification out of those mentioned has been the most valuable to you in your career so far? Besides my nursing degree, The Cooper Institute Workshops as well as WELCOA certifications have both been valuable.
2. Demonstrated Success
What major health promoting contributions have you made on behalf of your organization, your clients’ organizations, community, etc.? Provide specific examples and outcomes achieved.
a. What did your most successful program/intervention address (e.g., lifestyle disease, physical inactivity, stress, presenteeism, etc.)?
WellBalance our voluntary wellness program empowers employees to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle while taking an active role as an educated consumer, continues to have a positive impact on the health of our employees, resulting in reduction of their health risk factors and an improved quality of life.
Freeman Strides, our physical activity tracking program continues to play a vital role in the reduction of health risk factors related to physical activity. Employees that log 400 minutes of physical activity per month receive a wellness point.
WellBalance Wellness Champions, communicate and promote upcoming WellBalance, events. They assist co-workers with documentation of program participation and share wellness resources. They are enthusiastic, engaged, and empathetic. They encourage, inspire participation and lead by example.
Health, Energy and Life at Work (HEAL), pilot launched in 2015 with the mission to transform workplaces into healing environments by improving employees’ overall health. The eight week pilot provided mindfulness based stress reduction training to 12 nurses from high stress areas. Pre and post surveys were completed to see if by learning a variety of techniques these individuals were better able to deal with stress at the end of the study.
b. What intervention worked best to address this issue?
Our WellBalance Financial Incentive Program provides employees who complete three steps a $10 per pay period reduction in their health insurance premium.
• Complete an annual wellness physical
• Complete an online health risk assessment.
• Earn ten wellness points over the course of the year by engaging in a number of wellness offerings, such as: weight loss challenge, Freeman 5K, online wellness in-services, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Offerings, etc.
c. What were the specific outcomes of your intervention as they relate to each of the three outcomes categories below? Use specific numbers when possible.
i. Health status improvements (or cost savings)
Our WellBalance 2015 Year over Year Health Assessment (HA) Report revealed that 1,127 of the 1,599 employees that completed the HA in 2015 and 2014 showed a percentage of improvement in the following areas.
Glucose – 39% (Glucose > 100 fasting is considered at risk)
BMI – 39% (BMI of 18.5 or < or > 25 is considered at risk)
Blood Pressure – 31% (BP > 120/80 is considered at risk)
Cholesterol – 41% (Measurement of > 200 is considered at risk)
HDL – 38% (Measurement of < 45 is considered at risk)
ii. Behavior change
Positive behavior changes were noted in the following areas:
• 91% of employees reported visiting their physician annually as compared to 89% in 2014.
• We had a 5% increase in employees that met the financial incentive in 2015 compared to 2014.
• The number of employees that log 400 minutes of activity or more per month doubled between 2014 and 2015.
iii. Culture change
In January 2014, we created a wellness champions program with 32 individuals representing Freeman Health System.
• I believe developing a culture of wellness system-wide was a major factor in the increase in participation in our WellBalance offerings.
• In January of 2016 we doubled the number of wellness champions system wide to 64.
• Our wellness champions program criteria has been added to the revised WorkWell Missouri Toolkit resource that is a collaborative effort of the DHSS and MU Extension.
d. Tell us how you’ve used all or a few of the 7 Benchmarks to help design your interventions, measure outcomes, measure your success, etc. Provide specific examples if applicable.
I have used all of the seven benchmarks to design, implement and evaluate our WellBalance program.
• We have senior leadership support – we report our cost savings and VOI to them annually and renew their support for our annual financial incentive program.
• We have an active wellness committee that meets every 6 – 8 weeks to plan monthly offerings and evaluate and plan future offerings.
• We collect data annually from employees through our annual wellness health screenings, health assessments, and our Needs, Interest and Culture audit survey.
• We are able to document the positive changes made through the aggregate and cohort reports we receive from our health risk assessment vendor and through evaluations completed by employees after they participate in our wellness offerings.
How have you served as a leader and role model in the Health Promotion industry? Make sure that your answer addresses the criterion below or it will be scored as incomplete:
a. Describe specifically how you “walk the talk” by living a healthy lifestyle.
“Because I lost 50 pounds in 1999 and adopted a healthy lifestyle, I believe employees can relate to me because they know I traveled my own wellness journey. I am actively involved in physical fitness adventures and belong to our local multi event organization.
I like to believe I am a cheerleader to many – I help coworkers and others see, by my example, that they can achieve their own personal wellness goals one step at a time.”
In 2015 I was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy and was sidelined from biking and swimming. I gained some weight and suffered some mild depression by not being physically active. In January of 2016, a friend asked me to swim for her on a triathlon relay team. By this time my neck issues were resolved and I was able to get back in the groove with my physical activity group. I lost the weight I had gained and my positive attitude returned. I believe this experience as well helps me to relate to those that get side lined.
b. What resources or experiences helped you achieve leadership status in your field?
My background as a registered nurse has played a vital role in understanding the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles to prevent chronic disease.
• By attending the Health Promotion Director & Coaching Healthy Behaviors Workshops at the Cooper Institute, I gained valuable education and knowledge of what it takes to create and maintain a successful workplace wellness program.
• WELCOA’s Seven Benchmarks continue to be the foundation of our wellness program and continue to drive our efforts.
• Participating in our Community Health Collaborative and on the MOCAN Worksite Committee have been valuable experiences as well.
c. What advice would you give other wellness practitioners who are hoping to become leaders in the field?
• I would advise them to follow the Seven Benchmarks for a successful wellness program, to actively participate in the webinars, and utilize all of the resources that WELCOA members have at their fingertips.
• I would also suggest that they develop a culture of total well-being and employee engagement. Making sure that we promote the concept of total well-being.
• Finally I would encourage them to become involved in their community wellness collaborative’s as well as state and national health initiatives.
Describe how you have led or contributed to the advancement of the industry by implementing innovative solutions for total population health management and/or wellness programming.
a. What have you done differently to generate better results? (List 1-5 things)
i. We are shifting our focus from a traditional program that focuses on the
physical aspects of wellness to one that focuses on total well-being.
• We offered a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Pilot program in January of 2015. This eight week series focused on teaching the 12 participant skills and techniques to help them effectively manage stress.
• In conjunction with the pilot we created relaxation spaces in the pilot areas where employees can take a break and refocus.
• We offered our first WellBalance Stress Reduction Retreat in February of this year to all employees that focused on the stress response and systematic relaxation as well as an introduction to the practices of mindful meditation, mindful eating and mindful movement.
• As a results of the great response to our Stress Reduction Retreat in February we offered a second WellBalance Retreat: Eat with Intention & Move with Delight .The retreat held in July provided more information focused on mindful eating and mindful movement.
• We also offer a five minute mindfulness exercise during new employee orientation.
b. For each innovative strategy or intervention listed, what were the results/outcomes as they relate to each of the three outcomes categories below? Use specific numbers when possible.
i. Health status improvements (or cost savings)
Stress/Anxiety/Depression claims by paid amount decreased over $12K
ii. Behavior change
Our Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Pilot had the following results:
• Objective1: 100% report “I know how to meditate” after intervention while only 20% knew how to mediate prior to the course.
• Objective 2: 4 months after intervention 83.33% reported using MBSR to relieve stress as compared with 0% prior to intervention. 80% reported being able to apply MBSR to their job setting.
• Objective 3: 100% report practicing MBSR minimum 2 days per week after intervention.
• Objective 4: 6 quiet spaces established, exceeding goal by 100%.
• We are planning to offer this training to any employee system wide that wants to participate in January of 2017.
iii. Culture change
Our Health Assessment Vendor reported that 20% of our population is at risk for
Stress compared to 21.4% of their book of business.
5. Compelling Vision
Describe your vision for the Health Promotion industry as a whole.
a. What do you think are the biggest threats or opportunities that the health promotion industry faces throughout the next 5 years?
Traditional wellness programs that may only focus on physical fitness and nutrition should transition to a culture of total well-being that includes all aspects of wellness. Traditional weight loss challenges are not showing sustained weight loss. Focusing on a culture of total well-being should result in an overall improved quality of life.
b. In the next 5 years, what directions do you plan to pursue to advance the industry?
The future of health promotion lies in developing a culture of wellness in the workplace. To achieve success, individuals need to have resources and support from their co-workers and managers. We also need to be sure that we help employees understand that their health should be the key to motivate them to participate in wellness initiatives. We want them to participate for their own health and well-being, not just to gain savings or receive an incentive.