In 2012, CentraState Healthcare System had an established Wellness Program that was eight years old, and in need of someone who could work full time to devote their energy to creating and building their program. At the same time, Tracey was a recent and eager graduate looking to find her place in the working world where she could inspire people to live a better life by caring for their health. Tracey was given the opportunity to fulfill that position and take on the challenge of building Centrastate's Wellness program. Over the last two years, Tracey has brought a holistic approach to CentraState where she has implemented educational opportunities, new wellness work groups, and engaging employee health challenges. In 2013, CentraState’s Wellness Program became a nationally recognized program when it was awarded Gold Level Well Workplace through WELCOA. Aside from her work at CentraState, Tracey has continued to learn and grow professionally and is confident she represents the next generation of wellness in the workplace.
1. Professional Development
I received my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Georgian Court University graduating summa cum laude with first honors. I earned a Master’s in Holistic Health Studies from GCU and recently completed my first year pursuing a Master’s in Nutrition. I obtained certificates as a Holistic Health Coach (Institute of Integrative Nutrition), Worksite Wellness Specialist (National Wellness Institute), and WELCOA Faculty Member. I went into the wellness field because I saw missing pieces in the current healthcare model – health should focus on prevention and encompass a wholistic approach. My Master’s in Holistic Health Studies has provided the most value to my career because it transformed my own health and how I believe the care of health should be.
2. Demonstrated Success
The Fit Friends Challenge was created by the CentraState Human Resource team just prior to my hiring. Teams of employees were given free access to the on-site fitness center and tracked their exercise minutes throughout the challenge. I have continued the Fit Friends Challenge and helped create the “March, March!” Fit Friends has been in place for three years. Through our claims data, we have been able to show health risks improve significantly for employees who have participated in at least two Fit Friends Challenges. Employees who have participated in all three Fit Friends Challenges cost $200 less than employees who have not participated in any challenge. The “March, March!” tracked employees’ steps using a pedometer and provided maps of walking distances on the CentraState campuses. Since the “March, March!” you can see more employees walking the walking path on their breaks.
We have offered incentives in our Wellness Program for attending a yearly well visit and preventative cancer screenings. To further encourage this intervention, I hosted a “Primary Care Physician Fair.” Over 20 physicians attended and were able to speak to over 250 employees about their practice. I am building a Physician Directory where employees can go on our intranet see pictures, bios, practice information, and interesting fact on the doctors. I hope personalizing the process in choosing a Physician will encourage employees to schedule yearly well visits and have a Primary Care Doctor.
Being new to the industry, the WELCOA 7 Benchmark’s have been instrumental in providing me the tools to evaluate the wellness program already in place at CentraState, build on its success, and create new opportunities. The benchmark “Collecting Data to Drive Health Efforts,” taught me successful growth of my wellness program comes from data. With the help of our wellness company, we are now collecting claims data on our wellness program and employees. This is also essential information being a self-insured organization. It allows us to see where are greatest costs are occurring and plan programs accordingly.
I have the privilege of working in an organization that had a team approach to wellness before I joined. The CentraState Wellness Program is driven by Human Resources and had a Nutrition Work Group in place. Since I joined the organization, I have become a member of the Nutrition Work Group and created a Fitness Work Group and a Wellness Advisory Group. The Fitness Work Group’s goal is to make all employees “Fitastic!” The Wellness Advisory Group brings together the leaders in wellness quarterly to discuss needs, opportunities, and ideas.
The Benchmarks have been vital to the development of the CentraState Wellness Program since its beginning. Our success in implementing the Benchmarks was confirmed in 2013 when CentraState was awarded a WELCOA Well Workplace Gold award. These Benchmarks will continue to guide me as I strive to achieve a WELCOA Well Workplace Platinum award for CentraState.
I love the quote by Jim Rohn, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” I prefer whole foods, read food labels for ingredients, and believe nutrition is the essential to long term health. Other keys to my wellness include attending Pure Barre classes, acupuncture treatments, a little sunshine, taking a deep breath, and believing that happiness is a lifestyle not a destination. My ability to network with great wellness practitioners has helped me become a leader in my field. At GCU, I had talented graduate students provide free wellness services like massage, reiki, and acupressure to students. At CentraState, I have been able to bring other talented practitioners to CentraState as employees who teach wellness programs. The greatest advice I could give is to make your health a priority— you are a better health promotion professional for employees because you take care of yourself first.
When I was a graduate student at GCU, I saw an opportunity to create a campus wellness program. I created a Wellness Blog, Relaxation Retreats, and a Wellness Expo where practitioners and vendors came to the campus to create a wellness community for the day. The Wellness Expo has been repeated for the last three years and the campus wellness program has expanded into a campus wide initiative, GCU Healthy Campus. I saw the college campus as the perfect opportunity to encourage young adults to take better care for their health to prevent chronic disease, perform better in school, and create healthy habits to take into a workplace. At CentraState, I have taken my beliefs in holistic healing into the health care system. Employees have been introduced meditation, reiki, qigong, and pranayama through wellness programming. I look forward to bringing lasting, innovative ideas to CentraState in the years to come.
5. Compelling Vision
The greatest opportunity for the industry is the need for preventative care to combat rising health care costs and the epidemic of chronic disease. As a professional in the Health Promotion industry, we have the opportunity to save money, add healthy years to an aging population, and prevent the chronic conditions that many of our own family members experienced. What makes being in the industry today so exciting is the demand for these changes from employers and employees.
Although I am new to the industry, I have studied other wellness programs and different needs of populations. I believe continuing to learn about health, preventative medicine, and the business of keeping employees well is essential to creating change. My greatest role in this field is to lead employees as a population to move, eat clean, breathe, rest, and find happiness but, encourage the individual to personalize that journey for them.