ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Nancy Evolga

Successful Wellness Programs = Fun, Score, Prize

Nancy Evolga has led the efforts for the Bert Fish Medical Center (BFMC) wellness program that builds upon the mission to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of those in Southeast Volusia County, Florida. With 70% of the employee population residing in the local community, the best way to accomplish this mission is to work directly with employees and help them influence their family and friends to improve their own health and well-being. BFMC’s wellness team developed a points-based wellness system incorporating the mind, body and spirit. The program is fun, points are awarded and prizes given, and with great results. There has been a significant decrease in health claim costs and an increase in physical activity level with corresponding increase in improved blood pressure measurement. As a health care provider, Nancy serves the role of Executive Director Human Resources for BFMC a community hospital with over 700 employees. Nancy has over thirty-five years experience in all aspects of human resources.

Happy and Fit for Life

Bert Fish Medical Center employees in New Smyrna Beach, Florida are happy having fun, keeping score and winning prizes with their Fit for Life Rewards program.


Nancy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources from Nova Southeastern University and attained SHRM’s SPHR designation. After joining the healthcare industry in 2007, Nancy studied population health and the role employers must take to influence employees’ health and well-being.  She joined WELCOA and became a Certified Faculty member by attending the 7 Benchmarks Beginning and Advanced.  BFMC earned AHA Fit Friendly Company Award Platinum level  (2014) and won Florida Hospital Association’s Best Employer Workplace in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in part because of the wellness program.  Nancy recently spoke about wellness at the Planetree International Conference.

BFMC’s employee wellness journey began in 2009 when the  hospital became a  tobacco-free campus. In 2012, the wellness program was expanded to incorporate the mind, body and spirit and encourage employees to utilize available resources in their commitment to a healthier life.  A point system was developed by an in-house team  allowing employees to earn rewards redeemable for cash.  Employees earn up to $250 quarterly/$1000 annually depending on the points they accumulate and can also save up to $1300 on their annual health insurance premiums by participating in wellness assessments.  At the conclusion of each three-month program, individual and team successes are celebrated.  Employees are eager to share their testimony and encourage other employees to join them on their wellness journey.  Since employees have various wellness levels,  some having never exercised and  others where fitness has always been  part of their daily life,  we wanted a program that encouraged, incented and rewarded all levels of activity.

When the program was initially launched with the CEO’s support, interventions focused on the mind, body and spirit and were branded with the Fit for Life logo.  Once we joined WELCOA and attended the 7 Benchmarks, we went back to fill in missing components and articulated our mission and values, formed our goals and objectives, developed a budget, collected data and began measuring results.

Specific interventions include free use of on-site fitness center, discounted YMCA memberships and on-site programs, weight loss challenges, walking clubs and paths, fresh fruit delivered to departments, healthy pre-packaged family portion meals to go, internet brain training , book clubs, financial management seminars, weight management support groups, personal health assessments, team sports leagues, ergonomic education and workplace body mechanics to name a few.  Employees also receive points when they recruit new participants.

In the first two years of the Fit for Life program, we experienced a 23% decrease in monthly medical claims.  Additionally, we have seen a 30% improvement in the employee’s self-reporting of their overall physical activity. This self-reported information is supported by the blood pressure risk numbers decreasing from high risk of 22.4% to 15.6% and ideal score increasing from 17.4% to 36.0% during the same time period (17% improvement).

All interventions are branded with the logo and employees are accountable for tracking their activities.  Results are celebrated and employees have fun and take pride in knowing that their employer cares about their health and well-being.

Healthcare workers are traditionally a very unhealthy population.  Nancy has led the employee wellness initiatives at BFMC and is driven by her passion to lead a healthier lifestyle and improve the health and well-being of others. She has introduced healthier food options and increased exercising, she provides annual personal health assessments and coaching, and she has made the hospital a tobacco free campus and no longer hires tobacco users.  Nancy leads the Fit for Life Wellness team comprised of employees throughout BFMC as well as the YMCA and benefit providers.  Nancy is a member of the Fun Coast Worksite Wellness council and shares with other organizations on how they can start a wellness program.  She is also Vice Chair of the Southeast Volusia YMCA.

 BFMC did not initially start out with financial incentives for participation, but quickly learned that rewards were necessary to engage employees.   Previously employees were encouraged to quit tobacco by offering on-site classes and free nicotine replacement therapies with limited success.  BFMC started charging a “tobacco surcharge” to tobacco-users who enrolled in the health insurance plan.  This $25 per pay period ($650 per year) was used to fund wellness program costs.  Since the program was developed in house by employees,  employees take ownership of the program and pride in the culture.

The forecast for continuing decline in population health is devastating.   Employers must take the lead in reversing this trend and move beyond wellness to take a more holistic approach that includes an individual’s well-being, not only the physical health, but the financial, community, purpose and social aspects .     Successful well-being initiatives must be driven by leaders and champions who adopt the tenets of well-being for themselves, encourage others to do so and actively participate in well-being programs. As an employer, we will then be able to more effectively identify the root causes of issues that impact important business metrics such as health outcomes, healthcare costs, job performance, turnover and absenteeism.

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