Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) is a critical access hospital in the panhandle of Nebraska and serves as an employer of 300 individuals. The mission of the Hospital is to "Lead and innovate in health care delivery and community wellness". Fulfilling our mission to community wellness, BBGH has had an employee wellness program for 16 years and have made improvements every step of the way. In January 2012, BBGH hired me as its first ever full time wellness coordinator. For almost 3 years, I have spent time structuring an employee wellness program that would drive health outcomes by implementing policy and environmental changes, providing on-site wellness interventions, strategic planning sessions annually, and creating a culture of wellness within the organization, as well as opening our events to the community. Through this process I have spent much of my time analyzing and evaluating the wellness program status and outcomes using much of WELCOA’s information and resources to help. In 2012 the Box Butte General Hospital Employee Wellness Program was the recipient of the WELCOA Well Workplace Gold Award.
I have bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in program management from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I am also a certified wellness culture and health coach and currently working on my National Strength and Conditioning Certification. I was recognized as BBGH’s Employee of the Month Nominee two times and having the biggest body transformation companywide in 2012. Box Butte General Hospital has received recognition for our employee wellness program on regional, state, and national levels, receiving the Governors Excellence in Wellness Award in 2011, WELCOA Well Workplace Gold Award in 2012 and also a Visionary Award from the Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council in 2011. As the Wellness Coordinator, it is my duty to lead by example and make the healthy choice the easy choice. I have a strong desire to help people accomplish what they feel is the most important to their health. The thing that has been the most helpful for me in my position has been my college education and Wellness Culture Coaching Certification.
The most effective strategy in our organization is the creation and implementation of wellness challenges that address different areas of wellness with the purpose for health improvement. For instance, if we do a walking challenge the minimum requirement for completion would be the recommended amount of steps per day. If we do a physical activity intervention, the minimum requirement is the CDC’s recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. If it is behavior based program, the minimum requirements include meals per day, snacks per day, physical activity, hours of sleep, and water consumed are included into the intervention. Additionally, these interventions are longer in length to help develop a habit so that the behavior changes are carried over after the challenge is complete.
With these types of programs, we have seen a significant improvement in our organizational health status and participation in the wellness program. Currently we have participation of 64%. Last year, 82% of our participants met a health outcome goal by either improving their health score by 5 points or more, or meeting the recommended health score of 85 set by the National Standards of Health (determined by 6 biometric measures).
Additionally, we have been able to change the culture of the organization due to these outcomes as well as policy changes. These cultural changes include:
We used the 7 C’s to success to help in our organization in the following ways:
I think the best way I can demonstrate the importance of living a healthy lifestyle is by doing it myself. Just like many people, there was a time when I looked at myself and said “What happened”? At that point in time I had ballooned up to 219 pounds and was 26% body fat. I knew that someone in my position would have to walk the talk to be motivational and inspirational, so I decided to improve my health through continued diet and exercise. Over the course of 3 years, I have lost a total of 56 pounds and decreased my body fat percentage by 11 percent. I have been able to build on my leadership in the organization by participating in appointed leadership roles such as our service excellence program and new employee ambassador program. I get out to talk to people as much as possible to encourage them to partake in programs offered and opportunities presented. I would advise anyone in my field to do some of these very same things. Be what you are helping others to be and take any opportunity possible to serve in other leadership roles in the organization.
We have created or implemented interventions that are
These four things have been critical to the outcomes of the program in terms of health, behavior, and culture. Since the goal of each intervention is supported by evidence to contribute to health improvements, we have seen a shift in that direction in our organization as a whole. Behavior wise, the duration of each program being longer helps make the behavior a habit, rather than something new to try. Lastly, with the interventions being social based or team based, there are more people who participate in the organization. This helps hardwire a culture of wellness into the company because everyone can see it and everyone is doing it.
I believe one of the biggest threats, but also a great opportunity in the wellness industry is incentivizing with the purpose of driving health outcomes. I believe that incentives can be a great motivator. I also feel that employee wellness is about improving the health of individuals. Educating organizations about how to use incentives to drive health outcomes is a must.
In the next five years, I will continue to provide wellness programs that drive outcomes. However, a shift of focus more towards the individual through health coaching and peer coaching will be emphasized. Health coaching empowers employees to be accountable to what they would like to achieve and to take action in their own lives, their families, coworkers, and community members. The most powerful thing to inspire others is our own personal stories, success, and struggles. With this approach, we are better able to make the program fit the individual rather than making the individual fit the program.