| 2015 Q1 | story by LIZ WESLANDER | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |
During the past five years, the Business Health Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been partnering with local employers to offer wellness programs for employees within the workplace, with positive results. Now the center is working to make some of its most popular programs more accessible to the entire Lawrence community.
Each program developed by the LMH Business Health Center looks a little different, depending on the size and needs of the business. Greg Windholz, Director of the Business Health Center, said that approximately 25 employers in the area pay the center to provide a variety of levels of health programing to their employees. Sometimes the center provides simple services such as flu shots or finger-stick cholesterol checks. Other times, employers ask the center to put on comprehensive health fairs that include in-depth personal health assessments and blood analysis. Some employers also pay the center to provide follow-up support to individual employees or the staff as a whole.
“Our program is not just a one-size-fits-all thing that we take out to employers,” Windholz said. “Different employers have different risk factors – depending on whether or not they are an employer that has a lot of sedentary workers versus manufacturing where people are up and moving a lot. We can tailor education to those risk factors.”
The City of Lawrence is one of the largest local employers that the Business Health Center works with to provide wellness programing. In addition to a yearly health fair, the city has arranged to have a clinic, staffed with a nurse practitioner from the hospital, available to its employees for follow-up health coaching. City employees can use the clinic as much as they want and do not have to pay anything out-of-pocket for the service.
There are plenty of smaller-scale options for employers that want to work with the LMH Business Health Center. LMH Community Education Coordinator Ansley Anderson offers “Lunch and Learns,” which are short presentations on a variety of health topics free of charge to businesses.
Anderson regularly presents to all three shifts at Big Heart Pets processing plant in Lawrence and has recently started doing “Lunch and Learns” at General Dynamics Information Technology in the East Hills Business Park. Anderson also writes a monthly health newsletter and weekly health tip that goes out to 75 local businesses.
“We try to have something for everybody depending on their wellness budget,” Anderson said. “If it’s small group with a smaller budget – they might just decide to do some lunch and learns on occasion and subscribe to the newsletter, whereas other employers may decide to do the full-blown health appraisal and follow-up coaching visits. We try to meet everybody’s need and give them assistance to support wellness programs.”
Some segments of the programming offered by the Business Health Center are also available to the general public via health fairs and classes, but the center is currently working to widen the scope of resources it offers to the community at large. Redesigning the LMH Wellness Resources webpage and making the center’s online Cerner Wellness Portal available to the public are the two major components of this initiative. Windholz said that a handful of community members are currently testing out the portal software, and they hope to have it ready to roll out to the public by second quarter. Access to the portal will be a paid service with multiple options at multiple price points. The Wellness Resource page will be accessible to everyone.
The main goal of redesigning the LMH Wellness Resources page is to consolidate the information about health resources available both at LMH and throughout the community into a central, well-organized database. Windholz said that his team has been working with community-wellness agencies in the Lawrence to ensure that the resource page is comprehensive.
“We want to be the resource for wellness activities in the community,” Windholz said. “If you are a community member and you need some wellness information – either you’re looking for personal training, or need a health screening, or you’re looking for tai chi classes – you’ll be able to come to this site and find it. If you want to know what parks and rec is doing you can click there, if you want to know what the health department is doing you can click there, and so on. Right now those resources are all available, but they are all over the place.”
While health assessments that delineate risk factors are a fairly common tool, the advantage of the Wellness Portal is that each of the risk factor categories on the site has an accompanying extensive online library. This means that once users identify their personal health risk factors, they can click on links that will bring them to websites and videos that will further educate them on those issues. The software will also lead them to tools that can help them address specific health needs. For instance, the software has a meal-planning tool that generates a weekly menu based on dietary needs and weight-loss goals. It also offers tools that will keep track of medications, log total daily steps and determine whether or not the user is drinking enough water. The portal can be hooked to a FitBit and also has a mobile app so that people can enter information remotely.
During their work with the employees that they serve through the center, Anderson and Windholz have seen the positive effects that using the portal can have on people, and they are excited to see the resource available to the entire Lawrence community.
“Both Greg and I have been wellness gurus in the community for many years and it’s exciting to see other people finally starting to realize that this stuff does make a difference,” Anderson said. “They have tried leading a healthier lifestyle, they have sees the results, and now they’re hooked.”