Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare: Ahead of the Curve Winner of Business First’s Healthiest Employers Award

Jewish Hospital Team members.

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Strolling Down Memory Lane

Business First held it’s Healthiest Employers Award Luncheon on November 17. But many of the people at the luncheon may not have realized that in the early 90’s Louisville businesses were buying into corporate wellness. As part of a corporate wellness company, I actually taught nutrition & health classes for every bank in Louisville, most have which changed their names today, at Anthem, Ford, Brown Williamson, a number of churches and plus at Fort Knox. When the economy went south, so did the funds for corporate wellness programs as well and the company was dissolved.

The Winners

The awards stacked up like this: 5000 plus employees – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare Inc; 500 – 4,999 employees – Trover Solutions; 100-499 employees – Kentucky Trailer; 5 – 99 employees- Mediaura. These companies all have one thing in common – they have all become active in helping their employees to take care of their health by offering a variety of wellness are the worksite. It’s no secret, employers can help improve the health of their employees, lower their health and cut absenteeism by offering a wellness program at the worksite. Tom Monahan said that every $1 investment in employee health is a $3 return on their investment (ROI).

Trover Solutions, Inc: Matt Pendleton, Rob Bader, CEO, Michele Sedlar and Sue Middleton.

Business First Healthiest Employers of Greater Louisville reported that there are a number of factors critical to workplace wellness:

1. Tobacco-free workplace

2. Dependent access to wellness initiatives

3. Conduct health risk assessments/appraisals

4.  Conduct biometric screening

5.  Offer obesity support/training

6. Incentives the “at risk” to modify behavior

7. Track absenteeism comparing wellness participants  to non-participants.     

Dr. Sandra Brooks, from Norton Healthcare, reported in Business First that “in an office of 100 employees, 65 are overweight or obese, 40 to 60 report job stress, 21 are physically inactive, 12 to 23 have high blood pressure, 15 use tobacco, 6 have diabetes, 4 report depression, 3 are heavy drinkers and 1 may have a problem with abuse or other substances.”

According to Business First’s guest writer, Rod Reasen, II, the CEO of the Healthiest Employer, LLC, Louisville-area employers are embracing wellness as a way to help lower health care costs. His research suggests  Louisville area employers average a Healthiest Employee Index of 55.63 compared to 53.86 which is the national average.

Winner Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare: Ahead of the Curve

Many people may not be aware that Jewish Hospital was a leader in both employee health promotion and community health promotion in our region.  Forward thinking administrators at  Jewish Hospital in the 1990s had organized an effective employee wellness program to help lower their insurance costs. In addition to their employee wellness program, they launched a community wellness initiative which resulted in the development of Healthy Lifestyle Centers at River Falls Mall, Oxmoor, Jefferson Mall and Bashford Manor Mall.  These lifestyle centers had space for educational seminars, cooking classes, an area to take blood pressures and a library which included health information.

I started Kentuckian HealthFitness magazine in 1997 but for years prior KHF, I was busy working as a contractor for Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services providing weight management classes, cooking classes, supermarket tours and health education to our community on behalf of Jewish Hospital. The weight management classes I presented were for the Jewish Hospital employees. Other contractors at the time were also teaching stress management and smoking cessation programs.

Since at the time my area of specialty was cardiovascular nutrition, I had been contracted by Jewish to write a cholesterol education program which was published in a manual format used to teach patients  in a series of classes about how to manage their heart disease or prevent heart disease through lifestyle strategies at the Healthy Lifestyle Centers. Jewish Hospital also had the first Executive Health Program which was offered to busy executives for a one-stop health evaluation.

Unfortunately, our Kentuckiana community did not embrace the concept of health promotion and taking personal control of one’s health.  The Jewish Hospital administration was hoping the good will to the community would inspire new patients for Jewish Hospital.

I am not exactly sure why the Healthy Lifestyle Centers were closed throughout our region but the last center was officially closed when the Jewish Hospital Medical Center East was opened on Breckinridge Lane. By that time, KHF was underway and keeping me very busy.

I suspect Jewish Hospital Healthcare Service found out that health promotion was not cost effective even though the current philosophy is prevention pays off.  Hopefully more people will buy into the prevention approaches. (Too bad Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services didn’t turn the Healthy Lifestyle Centers into immediate care centers since they were staffed by registered nurses like I had suggested).   

Fast Forward to Today’s Emphasis on Health Promotion & Prevention

Winning Business First’s  Healthiest Employers Award sends a community wide message from Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare administration that they still have a commitment to keeping their employees well.  In addition to keeping their employees well,  Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare also provides employee wellness for other corporations both large and small as well as part of their occupational health strategy.

Congratulations to all Winners

Congratulations to all the area winners Business First’s  Healthiest Employers Award. Let’s hope that more businesses will continue to promote health at the worksite to create a healthier hometown.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Barbara has a new health and wellness online magazine as well.