American Medical Facilities Management (AMFM) has had wellness initiatives in place for several years now. However, in 2012 they decided to bring on a full time wellness coordinator, Lindsey Russell-Shindle, and move towards a results-oriented, fulltime wellness program. Shindle, brings 6 years of wellness and fitness experience to the table, focusing on health issues identified in data collection as well as promoting preventative screenings offered by the company. AMFM operates 15 skilled nursing, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities in 15 counties throughout West Virginia, and employing more than 1,400 employees. The AMFM Wellness program was recently named a gold level winner of the National Excellence in Worksite Wellness.
Lindsey Russell-Shindle graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology in 2009. While in school Shindle also obtained her ACE Personal Training Certification. Upon graduation, she used both her degree and certification, by personal training as well as serving as the Exercise Physiologist at Nautilus in Charleston, WV. During her time at Nautilus she was afforded the opportunity to work with clients with varying conditions as well as overseeing the weight management program for PEIA clients. In 2009 Shindle also began her Pilates training with Balanced Body University as well as working as an apprentice with CENTERED Pilates. It was in 2012 Lindsey then took a position with AMFM to build a full-time, year-round wellness program for over 1,400 employees. During her time with the company she obtained Faculty status with WELCOA and in September 2014 she accepted the Gold Level National Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award on behalf of AMFM. She also received certification in Mental Health First Aid and is currently training to lead the Systematic Stress Management Program by American Institute for Preventive Medicine. Shindle is also trained to instruct the Kaiser Permanente Tobacco Cessation Workshop. Through Shindle’s continued passion for being active and trying to live out a balanced life of health and happiness, she was naturally drawn to the wellness profession. She understands the importance in practicing prevention but also of finding a balance between physical and mental health. Though experience has been invaluable in this profession and continues to open doors for additional learning opportunities, Shindle credits her degree in Exercise Physiology as giving her the knowledge of the science behind our health.
AMFM’s most successful program in 2014 addressed inactivity as well as better nutrition and reduced stress within the company. It’s common to see in a healthcare facility that employees are taking care of others and forget to focus time on themselves. Not to mention West Virginia tops the charts as an unhealthy state once again. However, through the AMFM Health Improvement Challenge, our employee’s are striving to change those numbers! The company wide competition, challenges employee’s across the state, in each facility, to lose 2% of their body fat or weight within a set time period to get to a healthier weight. The program is so much more than just a weight loss program though. By participating, employee’s have the opportunity to learn quick, healthy cooking on a budget by attending cooking classes and lunch and learns. Employees also have the opportunity to try different activities to find something that fits their schedule or preference. Through activity employees report seeing reduced stress and overall satisfaction with weight loss. It doesn’t hurt that there are plenty of opportunities to win prizes along the way as well! It 2014, the company boasted a total weight loss of 1,049 pounds and 259% body fat loss!
The AMFM Wellness Program follows the WELCOA 7 Benchmarks for program design and also used for creating an operating plan. The Health Improvement program as well as other wellness initiatives draws participation from all levels of staff including some of the upper management. A member of the wellness team is located in each healthcare facility to help facilitate each program as well as provide immediate support. Prior to and again at the end of each program, participants complete surveys and data is collected from programs. There is also an interest survey conducted every other year and soon to be included: a Health Risk Assessment. This information collected is used to develop the operating plan for each year and weighs in on choosing the appropriate interventions. Through evaluating this data collected and outcomes of programs implemented, AMFM has seen a 4% increase in participation in competitions (such as the Health Improvement Challenge), 54% increase in company wide employee influenza vaccinations, and 100% increase in mammograms (paid for by AMFM), to name a few.
As someone who knows first hand, how difficult it can be to find a balance with an everyday hectic lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight, Shindle brings experience to the table. Lindsey has always been an active individual; loves to play golf, be outdoors, or even just taking a walk. Making time for these activities can be difficult let alone, getting separated from our desk at work, or even eating healthy in our fast paced world we live in. However, Lindsey strives to find that balance and promote those ideals. However small, everyone has to start somewhere and ultimately take control of their health and well being. Having a background in fitness and exercise physiology gives Shindle some insight into the many benefits physical activity can have on not only our physical health but also our mental health. By finding this balance and ultimately striving to be a better, healthier being, Shindle believes the mental health aspect will follow. Lindsey believes there are no bad learning experiences and recommends continuously educating yourself, especially in something you’re not familiar with. You can take something valuable away from every opportunity.
By AMFM now having a fulltime wellness coordinator and a year round wellness program, this works in favor of creating a culture of wellness. Shindle has also created an online portal for employees to find all their wellness resources in one location. The portal is also used for online tracking for further motivation, with year-round-access, flexible usage, and a place to build community. Employees track activity, nutrition, and/or other wellness initiatives for points. As these points add up and an employee reaches a set goal they are awarded for such. Employees can also use the portal for competitions and creating their own challenges with friends or other facilities within our company. The portal provides a central location for all trusted wellness information. The wellness portal also offers 30 day mini-challenges each month to keep participants motivated to continue tracking.
Shindle implemented a partial reimbursement program for fitness facility memberships as well. The employees must show proof of attending the recommended days per week to receive the partial reimbursement.
Shindle has also worked to educate on the importance of prevention. The AMFM Wellness Program offers company paid mammograms and flu vaccinations as part of their prevention plan. Through education and incentives, AMFM saw a 54% increase in flu vaccinations as well as a 100% increase in mammogram screenings in the past year.
AMFM increased their activity as well, when they received pedometers from the wellness program and tracked their steps throughout the summer. AMFM walked a total of 41,518 miles in 60 days in the Walking Challenge! Overall, since implementing a year-round wellness program with a full-time wellness coordinator 2 years ago, AMFM has experienced increased participation in wellness events as well as measurable increases in prevention initiatives.
By the increased participation, increased prevention screenings, increased daily activity, decreased weight and unhealthy habits, AMFM anticipates seeing an increase in savings for the company over time. By having these programs in place, AMFM sees behavior change and a mindfulness of wellness within the company. There are no longer doughnuts or pizza offered at meetings but rather healthy meals from local vendors. Employees are taking walks on their lunch breaks. AMFM has even seen several employees voluntarily quit smoking in the past two years. These small changes result in a culture change for the company and the communities in which the AMFM employees live.
One of the biggest obstacles the health promotion industry faces in West Virginia in the next 5 years is relevancy. It would be easy for our state to accept the poor numbers we see in the statistics and succumb to what we are told West Virginia is. There is a mind set in our state and even our nation, of “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s time to change that culture and create a mindful being and culture of wellness. It’s time to start practicing prevention and ensuring there will be a tomorrow.
On the State level, Shindle plans to continue to keep the wellness program relevant and active in each facility at AMFM. By drawing attention to the wellness program year-round, and on a day-to-day basis, focusing on even small changes Shindle plans to change the mindset and get employees to start thinking about wellness in their everyday lives. By individuals thinking twice about unhealthy choices for themselves, their families, and even their communities we can start to change the culture, to a culture of wellness in West Virginia. The healthy choice may not always be the easiest or the most cost efficient. However, in the long run the price for prevention will be more economical than the price for treatment.
West Virginia is a state of ingenuity and resourcefulness. By tapping into our many resources at hand, we can find ways to make activity and healthy eating the most cost efficient and the obvious option. There are many opportunities within the state to be active without having to pay for expensive gym memberships. Shindle has created wellness programs for AMFM employees that focus on alternatives to traditional exercise at an indoor facility. Rather, employees are encouraged to utilize other resources readily available to everyone, free of charge. Previous programs challenged employees to visit local and state parks, participate in a local fitness class offered, walk on the facility property, or get out of the office at lunch and take a walk, to name a few. Group walks with a healthy lunch provided after, have been organized at the facilities as part of lunch-and-learn series throughout the year at AMFM. Shindle plans to continue to offer and expand on resources for employees to get physically active within their communities. Shindle also plans to utilize local resources for fresh foods and healthier options as well as making better choices when dining out. Shindle wants to continue to educate and incorporate the resources we have locally in our communities to further convey it can be easy to make healthy choices in our everyday, hectic lives. Even when we don’t have the luxury of cooking at home or going to the gym after work, employees at AMFM can still find ways to make healthy choices while dining out or incorporate some activity into their busy schedules. Shindle hopes to create a culture of wellness within AMFM with mindfulness of making better decisions when possible.