ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Jayne Schmitz

Well Power for the City of Amesbury

Jayne M. Schmitz, M.P.H., Wellness Program Specialist
Current Company: Massachusetts Municipal Association/Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA)
Industry Type: Local Government/Insurance
Organization size: Our organization has 50 employees. The Association we serve has 120 member organizations and serves 24,000 employees statewide.
Years in the field: I started my career in health promotion in 1988.

I received my M.P.H. from Boston University in 1992 with a Social/Behavioral Science focus.  This was the most valuable degree/certification I have received to date. It provided me the best level of understanding and depth of population health that is available in the field.  Industry certifications have also been helpful to stay current in the field.  I recently completed WellCert 2 through the Chapman Institute.  I have previously attended and completed several WELCOA certification series and have attended several WELCOA Summits.  I also attend AJHP’s annual conference each year along with a pre-conference (last year it was Rosie Ward’s in order to learn more about culture change).  I have completed Judd Allen’s wellness culture coach training.

Each year Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA offers a $5,000 Wellness Innovation Award to an organization who shows the highest level of commitment and creativity in wellness programming.  Under my  leadership, the City of Amesbury won this award twice, and the Town of Middleborough won it once.  In both of these groups the committee used the WELCOA 7 Benchmarks to guide their program.

I have always been interested in health and wellness.  When I learned there was a career path focusing on helping others lead healthy, vibrant, productive lives, I knew I had found my calling.  I am as passionate today about this field as I was when I began my career in 1988.  As the field evolves, I make it a point to stay current of the latest trends and research in order to create and deliver the most effective programs to our worksites.

I was hired in 2010 to head up a project called Well Power.  This three-year initiative was designed to help City of Amesbury employees lead healthier lives, better manage health care costs, and gain a better understanding of how to navigate the health care system.  It was developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) to serve as a model for other municipalities within the MIIA Health Benefits Trust.  We formed a Steering committee comprised of people from MIIA, BCBSMA and our EAP to develop a plan.  We used WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks as a guide to best practices.

Our Steering Committee crafted an operating plan based on the Healthy People 2010 definition of a comprehensive workplace health promotion program. 

1. Health education, focused on skill development and lifestyle behavior change along with information dissemination and awareness building – We implemented an 11-week Heart Matters program, telephone coaching for tobacco cessation, and multi-session exercise and nutrition classes.  Interventions were selected based on the group’s claims history and utilization from the prior two years to address the most salient issues within the Amesbury population.  We identified the top four major diagnostic categories where utilization was highest, and used this as a backdrop for implementing effective wellness programs, prevention campaigns, and benefit changes. 

2. Supportive social and physical environments, reflecting the organization’s expectations regarding healthy behaviors and implementing policies promoting healthy behaviors. – The Well Power program used leadership support (the Mayor and Chief of Staff were key promoters and participants), incentives, and an active wellness committee (comprised of department heads who highly endorsed the program within their departments) to encourage participation and create a supportive environment.

3. Integration of the worksite program into the organization’s benefits, human resources infrastructure, and environmental health and safety initiatives. – With assistance from BCBSMA and the Amesbury unions, we crafted benefits changes that ultimately resulted in cost savings for both the City and employees.  We conducted on-site workshops on Consumerism/Medical Self-Care to educate employees on how to get the most out of their health care dollars.

4. Links between health promotion and related programs like employee assistance. – MIIA maintains a partnership with AllOne Health Employee Assistance Program, and offers it at no charge to our member organizations.  We promoted it often at all of our wellness-related events for the City of Amesbury, and often used the EAP to conduct workshops on team-building and other organizational behavior topics.

5.  Screenings followed by counseling and education on how to best use medical services for necessary follow-up. – In Years 2 and 3 of the initiative we offered blood pressure and body-mass index screenings in conjunction with flu clinics.  We encouraged participants to use these results in their health assessment. 

In addition to annual on-site screenings, we conducted quarterly prevention campaigns.  These were targeted mailings to age-appropriate employees who hadn’t had a colonoscopy; or those who hadn’t had a routine physical in the past three years.  We also did educational mailings on when to use the emergency room, and when to seek less expensive alternatives.

Each year’s program results were evaluated.  We looked at participation and outcome data from screenings, health assessments, and on-site/on-line program outcomes.  We made course corrections based on this data to meet the group’s needs, and to keep the program interesting and engaging.

Small monetary incentives were used in an effort to increase participation.  Employees and spouses could earn a $50 gift card if they completed three tasks:  

Complete a confidential health assessment,
Attend a 1-hour consumerism workshop, and
Participate in at least one other wellness initiative from a predetermined list. 

Year 1 accomplishments are below.  We had similar results in Years 2 and 3.

  • 56% attended a consumerism workshop
  • 49% completed an on-line confidential health assessment
  • 17.5% reduction in ER visits (cost avoidance of $28,250-$32,500)
  • 29% participated in at least one wellness initiative

We were thrilled with the participation in just one year of programming.  We saw cost savings, which were ultimately passed down to employees in the form of rate reductions in the following years; behavior change in terms of health care spending and lifestyle improvements; and a culture change due to a robust committee comprised of passionate department heads and union leaders.

 Leadership (160 words) How have you served as a leader and role model in the Health Promotion industry?

Walking the Talk – I have always been passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  This includes maintaining a healthy weight; keeping stress levels in check; eating a healthy diet comprised of mostly whole, unprocessed foods; exercising at least five days a week; sleeping 8 hours/night on most nights; and maintaining close relationships with family and friends.  By simply doing these things, I hope others will be inspired. 
Resources/experiences – I have been in this field since 1988, and have nurtured relationships with many wonderful and influential people over the years.  In addition to having an extensive network of gurus with which to collaborate, my Masters of Public Health degree has been invaluable in understanding human behavior in order to move the behavior change needle forward.  My ten years of experience at BCBSMA has helped me understand disease management, case management, and how the health care system works in relation to behavior change.  My experience at an Employee Assistance Program has helped me bridge the gap between physical and mental health, and how organizational development within a work group can improve morale, and create a more engaged population.

Advice for Others – Never stop reading about emerging trends in our field.  As we have recently seen in AJHP regarding the financial impact of workplace health promotion programs, things change and we must adjust our thinking and our strategies. 

Don’t be afraid to say what didn’t work, and then make changes accordingly.  Clients and industry colleagues will respect your honesty. 
Stay connected with smart people.  Look at the issues from all sides before determining the best strategy to employ.
Volunteer – on committees, boards, work groups.  You will learn a lot from others, make some great friends, and have fun. 
Collaborate – Create teams and committees to accomplish your goals.  An old friend once told me:  “None of us is as good as all of us.”
Inspire your colleagues, your bosses, and your clients to think bigger.  Expose them to new ideas and get their feedback.  Everyone wins.

Innovation –

I was hired to track the emerging trends in wellness, and adapt them for the public sector.  Public sector worksite wellness differs from the private sector in several ways:  1) union buy-in is key; 2) dispersed populations (and concomitant culture variations) are challenging in reaching employees with the right programs, in the right way.  Many components of the Amesbury program are being used with other municipalities.

My charge is to pilot new concepts/strategies on select municipal groups and if the strategies are successful to roll them out to 24,000 subscribers within 120 cities and towns throughout Massachusetts.  Over the past year I have focused on culture change strategies, and how to operationalize them with top leadership.  It has been an educational campaign for the most part as Mayors, Town Managers, and School Superintendents are not familiar with the concept of building a culture of health within their organizations.  We are taking small steps to support these worksites by first helping them to make climate changes. Our goal is to help municipalities have a more engaged workforce so that employees want to come to work, enjoy the work they do, and like and respect the people with whom they work. 

In terms of programming, this can take the form of a cooking class or healthy sleep class for the fire department, a stress resiliency program customized for the police, or stretching/nutrition program in conjunction with snow plow training for the DPW.  These programs may be onsite or online, and we have found that online options are terrific for those working various shifts.  These programs combine traditional wellness with on-the-job safety and overall wellbeing. When department heads are supportive, employees are much more receptive.

Compelling Vision -- 

As we move forward, we are going to continue to focus on creating a culture of health and wellness within our organizations.   We have an opportunity to create worksites where people want to come to work, are happy in their jobs, and are productive and thriving.  This means working with leadership to create the conditions that support a healthier place to work.

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Hi Jayne, All the best with your contest entry. Your achievements, innovation and leadership in Workplace Wellness within your organization is most impressive. Congratulations! I would love to connect with you offline to chat more about your programs and services as I am seeking interested and talented Workplace Wellness Professionals like yourself as guest presenters/facilitators for our online Ambassador Certification program. Additionally, I would most welcome a case study of your organization's successes for a KWC International White Paper on Workplace Wellness Perspectives, Best Practices, & Case Studies that we are currently developing. With permission, these papers will also become case studies for our soon to be launched Certification Program providing further recognition to your amazing successes. Please contact me at if either of these opportunities are of interest to you. I look forward to connecting in the near future! Lisa Kelly

Lisa K. on 10/09/2014

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