ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Gail Migliozzi

Bridging the Health Communication Gap

I have been a worksite wellness consultant for 21 years and currently work as the Wellness Center Director for Derry Medical Center, an independently owned, primary care practice with 180 employees and four locations in Southern New Hampshire.

Gail Migliozzi, MA

1. I credit my mother’s TV instruction by Jack LaLanne, combined with eating an unappetizing hamburger and my “freshman fifteen” that ignited my passion for wellness. From my undergraduate health-related electives to my personal training, nutrition, tobacco cessation, wellness coaching and WELCOA faculty certifications, it is my Health Communication Masters Degree that has been the highlight of my educational journey.  “Bridging the Health Communication Gap Utilizing the Intranet” was my thesis for which I received the Graduate Dean’s Award.  My creating a “fitness intranet” for my client programs and my education continue to help me produce individual and organizational change today.

2.  My most successful program addressed the lifestyle disease of smoking.  Over a 9-month period I established a tobacco-free campus at a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) while providing quit smoking resources and support for smokers. The program goals were two-fold:  1) support employees wanting to quit by promoting quit smoking benefits, and smoking risks along with appropriate resources, and,  2) provide regular communications  so employees were aware of and understood the tobacco-free policy well in advance of the implementation date.

The tobacco-cessation intervention that worked the best were my smoking cessation clinics based on  American Lung Association and American Cancer programs.

All 7 benchmarks were utilized throughout this campaign.  The Executive Director (ED) hired me to create a culture of health, starting with establishing a tobacco-free campus. Her full support was clear from the beginning and included three wellness committees.  These fifteen appointed employees were from different departments and management levels. The “Self-Care Committee” met monthly about the tobacco-free campus effort.  Our operating plan was based on the CDC’s Tobacco-Free Workplace Toolkit.  Data about the current number of smokers and best way to communicate with them was provided by the ED and department heads.

Knowing the vital role that environmental support plays in building a culture of health, I implemented a variety of interventions and communication strategies to insure a successful campaign.  Because of the high face-to-face contact demanded in a CCRC, where there is not a lot of flexibility during the workday, the cessation strategies included smoking cessation clinics, one-on-one coaching, and a free patch kit for clinic enrollees.

Utilizing a variety of communication strategies and delivering them frequently was fundamental to this   campaign. Because 90% of the workforce did not have a computer, written strategies and verbal strategies were essential. These included newsletter and meeting announcements, testimonials, FAQ's brochure, department head packets, flyers, lunchroom table tents, support peer list, reimbursement requirements for NRTs, tobacco-free policy to sign, phone/online quit resources, paycheck stuffers, EAP, eligible HSA expenses list, insurance coverage fact sheet for smoking cessation aids, and a team-building poster contest about the benefits of quitting. Tobacco-free campus day one support was planned similarly to the Great American Smokeout.

The evaluation gauged health status changes including a 20% reduced smoking population over 2-years, and an average health care savings of $4,260 pp/year.  Behavior change was measured with a 66% and 85% quit rate at end of clinic and 1-year respectively.

To monitor culture change environmental results were assessed. These included employee awareness of quit resources, policy signed, outside smoking areas eliminated, money saved improving financial wellness, increased stress with quit mandate, second hand smoke smell eliminated, increased productivity with no smoking breaks, dissension eliminated about employees taking breaks, resident recruiting tool, residents showed support solidifying the importance of a healthy staff to them, team building effect with peer support, and, increased awareness and respect of the company's health supportive policies and programs. Lastly, success with an extremely difficult health behavior change led to confidence in tackling others habits.

3. This field is exceptional because being a role model is part of the process in creating a successful career. Living a balanced, healthy lifestyle has been an intricate part of my life for over 34 years! I perform strength training, Pilates and a variety of cardiovascular exercises 5-6x per week. Nutrition was my first love going back to my freshman year at college. To learn every possible thing I could about healthy eating I worked in natural food stores while going to school. Mindfulness meditation and sleep hygiene are the foundation of my stress management practices today. My pursuit of whole-person wellness education for my well-being and my clients is paramount to making a lifelong body-mind connection. My Health Communication Master’s Degree, WELCOA, and constant continuing education with a positive psychology emphasis are the resources that support my pursuit. Find what ignites your passion, know your audience, stay on top of trends, network, and never stop learning!  

4. My contribution is recognizing the vital role that media strategies play in engaging individuals and inspiring them to take action. My innovative Master’s Degree taught me the value of using media strategies to drive health promotion campaigns targeting behavior change barriers while reinforcing the benefits of healthy habits for lasting change.  Using a variety of media strategies made the difference in executing the successful tobacco-free campus example, where culture change and quitting a highly-charged habit were accomplished simultaneously, and without incident.  This result was the best one I could have planned - it was reported that employees were "sick of hearing about it", confirming that more than ample communications were implemented successfully.  There was a 20% reduction in smokers, behavior changes supported by the 66% and 85% quit rate at clinic and 1-year respectively, and culture change as described in the question 2 results above.  

5. The biggest health promotion opportunities lie in partnering with the medical industry.  As healthcare costs spiral out of control, prevention and lifestyle medicine offer the key future combination.  As the Wellness Center Director for a large, independent, primary care practice, I am excited about the unique opportunity to help empower people to take an active role in their well-being to prevent and manage chronic diseases. Our dedicated wellness center delivers lifestyle medicine, weight management, and diabetes education programs to facilitate changes that help patients move toward optimal health.  Plus, our fitness studio specializes in supporting the de-conditioned population who may have a variety of chronic illnesses or limitations.  WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks help me deliver well-designed programs while always collecting important data.  Our future medically-supervised programs will continue to bring people together in a supportive group setting, successfully bridging the medical world with preventive, lifestyle interventions for lasting change.

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Gail Migliozzi, MA
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Congrats Gail! You were inspirational to me and I still use the tips you gave me 15 years or so ago.

Barbara B. on 1/21/2015

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