South Florida Hospital News
Monday May 25, 2020
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January 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 7

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Working to Health Program Ö A Good Business Decision

Research has shown that most individuals without healthcare coverage have jobs but canít afford the premiums and that the majority of Americans spend more of their waking hours at work than they do anywhere else. In addition, businesses that do provide health care coverage are shifting more of the financial burden onto the employee.

Corporations are struggling to maintain revenues and profitability as well as a productive employee base. The indirect cost of poor health is reflected in high absenteeism and/or lower performance (presenteeism) and can be two to three times that of direct medical cost that will dramatically affect the bottom line. It is estimated that more than 50% of all deaths can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of exercise, overweight and/or obesity, poor nutritional habits and high stress and anxiety.

At the Florida Heart Research Institute, our cutting edge research has revealed that the leading cause of death in our country- cardiovascular disease- is, to a large degree, preventable. "We find ourselves as a society spending more and more time to treat a disease which we are already well equipped to prevent" states Dr. Paul Kurlansky, Board Certified Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Director of Research at the Florida Heart Research Institute.

It has become more evident to business owners in recent years that the work place is an ideal setting to get employees to begin the process of learning how to keep fit and heart healthy. In 2005 a survey was conducted by the Health Council of South Florida aimed at companies with fewer than 50 employees that revealed that 80% of those who participated wanted more information on worksite wellness program options.

The Florida Heart Research Institute now offers a new program called Working to Health, a worksite wellness program designed to fit the customized needs of companies with fewer than 50 employees as well as companies with 50 to 500 employees.

The Working to Health Program design offers value added consultation with the Director of Corporate Wellness Programs at no charge, customization of initiatives that address a companyís specific needs, individual modules such as educational sessions, one on one with a health coach and/or nutritionist, cardiovascular risk factor screenings, health risk assessments and follow-up and outcome measurements to ensure that these efforts are beneficial. Cost is predicated on several program design options so that there is choice rather than a "one size fits all" approach. Numerous studies show that healthy employees have a positive impact on business including increased productivity, less sick time and higher morale. This leads to better retention rates, savings in employee training costs, and ultimately a return on your employee wellness investment. Employees who see that their employers genuinely care about their health and well being will be happier and more willing to put forth effort on behalf of the organization.,

The Florida Heart Research Institute serves as a good example of how simple steps can change a work environment. We are a small not-for-profit organization with fewer than 50 employees. In keeping with our mission to stop heart disease through research, education and prevention, our employees have adopted heart healthy eating habits, attended a Pilates class together as a team building activity and put up a Wellness Corner Bulletin Board that is maintained with all kinds of tips on how to adopt and keep healthy lifestyle behaviors. Several employees have built regular physical exercise into their busy work week as well.

The Florida Heart Research Instituteís Working to Health Program can be a start to helping employers become proactive in encouraging their employees to stay healthy and fit. Itís a win-win program for all concerned.

Rona Levitt, RN, FNS, CPHA, Director of Corporate Wellness Programs, Florida Heart Research Institute, can be reached at (305) 779-6921 or rlevitt@floridaheart.org.
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