I currently serve in the role of Community Wellness Coordinator with over 13 years of experience in the health and wellness field for Sioux Center Health, a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation, which has an employee base of over 450. This position is responsible for developing, implementing, and coordinating all business functions and activities in the Community Wellness Department including planning and promoting employee health and wellness activities, collaborating with the Marketing Department to publicize wellness programs and measure outcomes including cost and return on investment, participation, levels of health and satisfaction. I have created and oversee a wellness team, comprised of 8 Sioux Center Health employees, who assist in employee wellness program implementation. I stay on the pinnacle of top trends in health and wellness through research via many sources and evaluate those trends to prepare proposals to implement innovative strategies to our population here in Northwest Iowa. I also serve as a key member of a county-wide health coalition, as well as various community groups that are all working towards a common goal of creating a healthier population.
Amanda Wiggins, Community Wellness Coordinator, Sioux Center Health
Being fascinated by the fitness industry at an early age, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a Nutrition minor from the University of North Dakota. While at UND, I had the opportunity to work for the student wellness center as a program coordinator, personal trainer and pilates instructor. There, I had my first taste of corporate wellness, leading thousands of staff and faculty members through various wellness programs. In 2013, I reached WELCOA faculty status and a day doesn’t go by in my professional life without using at least one piece of knowledge I’ve learned through WELCOA.
When stepping into the role of Community Wellness Coordinator in 2012 at SCH, a wellness program was in place but it was time to make some changes and create some new wellness excitement. This was when the HealthPlus 7D Wellness Program formed, which is built into our benefit plan. “7D” stands for the seven dimensions of wellness that we incorporate into our program every day. Good wellness professionals know that wellness is a multi-faceted puzzle that needs all its pieces to function.
Being familiar with WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks, it was just a natural process for me to use those in designing the HealthPlus program. We are blessed to have a supportive CEO and had her full support from day one. From there, our HealthPlus team was formed and began holding monthly meetings to determine how we could create a results-oriented wellness program versus just an activity-centered model. Our most powerful incentive comes in the form of a yearly wellness bonus. After just one full year of this new program, our results are speaking for themselves.
Each year employees who are interested in the 7D program have their glucose levels checked along with a full lipid panel and biometric testing. Once employees receive their results, they then complete WELCOA’s Wellstream Personal Health Assessment online. The PHA is the final piece of initial data collected at the beginning of each wellness year. With those results, we are able to craft a more detailed operating plan to address the employee’s health needs.
Our first year with the new program came with a participation rate of 25% of our employees. Now in year two, we have increased that to 28%. After just one year of the 7D program, our BMI rates have shown great improvement with a 4% increase of participants having a BMI <25. After the first year of data collection, we found that 72% of our employees were either overweight or obese. We also shifted in the right direction with our cholesterol levels with 35% of our participants having a cholesterol level >200 down to just 24% in year two. Our pre-diabetes levels also dropped from 15% having a glucose level of >99 down to 13%.
With these results, we are able to then design the rest of year and feel confident in knowing that the weight loss classes I teach, the seminar topics we bring in, challenges we hold, and the policy changes we’ve made are leading us in the right direction. The HealthPlus team and I ensure that all departments in our organization are included in all of these efforts as we are spread out across multiple campuses. Managers at each location are very good about encouraging participation from their employees and allow time away during the work day to attend various wellness events.
Each program/intervention that happens at SCH is carefully evaluated at the end for its effectiveness. Overall program and culture surveys are also conducted so that we may fully hear what our employee’s wellness needs are.
A side effect of being a wellness professional is that your behaviors are closely watched whether you like it or not! As a result, an obvious and easy choice for me is to be a wellness role model in all aspects of life. My family and I enjoy an active lifestyle whether it’s hiking mountains, riding bikes, running or just simply going for a walk.
During the course of my career, I have overseen many employees and interns, but for the past two years, I have led a team of 8 that make up our employee wellness team and a community health coalition with a core group of 5.
Education will give you credibility in this field, but I feel that many of the opportunities I have been given and the respect I have earned through the years has been due to my obvious desire to live a healthy life and a motivating attitude for others to do the same.
While incentive programs are great motivators, intrinsic motivation comes at the policy level. One of the first projects that I took on in my current role was to implement a policy of what was available in our vending machines. Using the NEMS-V guidelines, we set an initial goal of 30% of our vending items to be healthier choices. Today, 38% healthier options, other than your typical candy bar, are offered. This was just the beginning of our nutritional policy changes.
Since then, my wellness team and I have worked with our dietary staff to eliminate free cookies from our waiting rooms (imagine how many we went through in a day!), post calorie counts of foods served in our dining room, scale back the size of desserts when offered and wrote a complete nutritional guideline document for caterings.
The overall goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
The health promotion industry has a very bright future and I see it only continuing to expand as healthcare costs rise and employers are constantly looking for ways to decrease those costs. However, there is still a bit of a gap between employee wellness and the insurers/providers. I see this as just one opportunity for the health promotion field to come together to tighten that gap.
Also, the age of technology comes with a set of pros and cons all on its own. With so many online programs, apps, devices, etc. today, we must not let those things do the work for us and forget about the importance of relationships and face-to-face meetings with those we serve.
We, as educated professionals, need to continue to make policy changes and more results-oriented wellness programs in order to see an overall impact.