ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Steven Auferoth

City of Eugene's Comprehensive Health and Wellness Program

Health and Fitness Website:

In 1982, the City of Eugene started a health and fitness program with a narrow focus of trying to reduce the Workers’ Compensation costs for two specific work groups, the Public Works Maintenance and Firefighter employees. I was hired in November of 1988 as the Director of Health and Fitness and the program has now expanded to include more than 1450 employees and more than 3000 family members covered on our health plans.

This program was the recipient of the 1997 Fitness Leadership Award given by the Oregon Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport for the premiere Employee Health and Fitness Program in the state of Oregon. For the last four years, the City of Eugene has been in the top 10 for the Healthiest Employers of Oregon voted by the Portland Business Journal.

The key program responsibilities include:
1. Managing the Wellness Center and over site over all the on-site exercise facilities in the City of Eugene. Over the years, we have developed exercise facilities at locations where we have more than 100 employees, have developed two exercise facilities at two of our four community centers and pools that serve both employees and community members, and we have exercise facilities at all of our 12 Fire Stations and at our central Police station.

2. This program manages the city physician/medical services contract to oversee all pre-employment physical testing and on-going physical exams given our employees.

3. This program manages, develops and presents a wide array of health/fitness/wellness/medical education classes to employees and family members (see video).

4. This program conducts a comprehensive health risk appraisal (HRA) for employees and family members. This assessment includes an in-depth blood analysis, biometric testing, hearing testing, and a comprehensive fitness appraisal. Employees are allowed to complete this assessment on work time.

5. This program works directly with our Workers’ Compensation Program in dealing with on-the-job injuries. I work directly with doctors/therapists in the community to help return our employees to work in a timely fashion. I work with our employees in our Wellness Center or at one of our city owned pools to work on a specific rehab program to return the worker to the job. This program saves on lost-time away from job as well as rehabilitation costs.

6. This program instituted a comprehensive computer ergonomics program in 1991 which has been instrumental in reducing cumulative strain injuries. Over 80% of our computer workstations have ergonomic furniture that can be adjusted to fit the worker. We are in the process now of instituting sit/stand work stations.

7. This program implemented a comprehensive worksite job task analysis program for blue collar workers. We developed pre-work stretching programs and have developed a wide variety of ergonomic tools to reduce the risk of injury while working.

8. This program creates and implements individualized exercise and health related programs. I also work with individuals and small groups on body mechanics and proper lifting skills to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries.

9. This program manages the pre-employment job related physical abilities testing for the Police and Fire Departments.

10. This program creates and produces a monthly newsletter, produces on-line video training and produces on-line exercise videos for on-demand viewing.

11. This position is responsible for the OSHA required Bloodborne Pathogen Training Program and the OSHA required Hearing Conservation Program. These programs require annual training of all employees involved with potential bloodborne exposure and annual training and testing for all employees involved in the Hearing Conservation Program.

12. This program conducts annual flu clinics for City of Eugene employees and family members and coordinates the annual blood drive campaign.

13. This position oversees and conducts CPR/AED/First Aid training for all employees.

Health and Wellness Promo

This short video is a promo about the City of Eugene's Comprehensive Health and Wellness Program. This promo was developed for prospective employees as well as current employees and family members.

Professional Development
November 2014 I will be starting my 27th  year as the Director of Health and Fitness for the City of Eugene. I have a MS Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Oregon. Before taking this job I was the manager of a health and fitness center in Hong Kong China.

I am certified by the American College of SportsMedicine as a Health/Fitness Director and a certified Personal Trainer by the ACSM. I’m a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength & Conditioning Association. I’m a Certified Peer Fitness Trainer by the American Council on Exercise. I’m a Certified Health Promotion Director by the Cooper’s Aerobic Institute. I’m a Certified Corporate WellCoach. I’m a certified USA Weightlifting Coach Level 1. I’m a certified Medical Phlebotomist. This comes in handy because I draw all the blood for our HRA program. I’m a Certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist (COHC). I’m a certified Medic First Aid, CPR, AED, and Bloodborne Pathogen Instructor. I’m a certified Tabata BootCamp Instructor.

Demonstrated Success
The main focus since day one of this program is to reduce or maintain the cost of healthcare and to reduce the risk of injury for employees. The City of Eugene is self-insured and self-administered in health insurance and workers’ compensation so any monies saved by these programs stays with the organization. Over the past 20 years, the city has experienced lower than average cost increases to the health plan. We’ve also had many success stories with the workers’ compensation program in our return to work program. If an employee is injured on the job and is in a light-duty status I will work directly with the doctor/therapist to implement a well-rounded total body reconditioning program to return the worker to the job in a healthier state. 

Over the past 26 years I’ve talked with many employees and listened to their stories about them getting healthier, losing weight, reducing their cholesterol numbers, reducing their blood sugar numbers, reducing their blood pressure, reducing or eliminating prescription drugs and getting to a healthier place in their life by being involved with the health and fitness program. It’s been my impression that great program successes happen one person at a time. 

More recently the City of Eugene has implemented a Wellness Incentive Program. Once a year a person can fill out an on-line HRA and create and implement a health improvement plan (HIP) and they will receive an extra $100 in their paychecks. At present we have a 46% participation rate and with more marketing we can get this above 50%.
I believe another demonstration of success is that this program has been in existence for 32 years and hopefully will continue to flourish into the future.

As a leader in my field and my organization I take the role of Health and Fitness Director very seriously. I am a staff of one so my time is spread thin over the organization. I workout daily and teach 4 exercise classes weekly at our Wellness Center so my personal health is also very important. One of my primary goals as the Director is to have the health and fitness program become part of the culture at the City of Eugene. I’ve been working on this for 26 ½  years and I’ll keep working on this for at least 5 ½   more years when I retire at age 65.

One thing I’ve tried to do over the years is to get to know the jobs our employees do so I can better help them with either exercise programs or to create tools to help them do their jobs better and more safely. Over the years I’ve gone into burning buildings with our Fire Department, gone on 24 hour SWAT trainings with our Police Department, gone into the waste water at our Treatment Facility and cleaned wastewater storage tanks, sat through 8-hour shifts at our 911 center, completed ride-alongs with Police officers, worked inside manholes with our Engineering staff, worked with our parking control officers chalking tires from a moving vehicle, pulled cabling for our street lights and light poles with our Transportation staff, painted street lines and turn arrows on the street with our Maintenance crews to name a few. My thinking is this gives me credibility when talking with employees about their jobs.

Compelling Vision
My compelling vision has always been the same for the employees of the City of Eugene. To be healthy enough to have a very successful working career and then to continue to be healthy to have a long and happy retirement. To work all those years and not be able to enjoy the rewards of a long career would be a tragedy. 


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