Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

What's Happening Worksite

SCHA Working to Create a Culture of Worksite Health

Issue
Poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and tobacco are the major risk factors leading to early and preventable disease and contributing significantly to healthcare costs. These risk factors among employees result in higher absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased costs for employers. The simple truth is that unhealthy employees are less productive than their healthier peers. Hospital administrators understand the high cost of preventable illness and disease among the almost 80,000 South Carolinians who work in hospitals.

Intervention
In 2009 Eat Smart, Move More SC and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) came together to discuss how the lives of hospital employees could be improved through creating a healthier work environment focusing on preventing chronic disease. Seed money from Eat Smart, Move More SC allowed the SCHA to work with NC prevention partners to conduct a statewide assessment of SC Hospitals’ tobacco, nutrition and physical activity policies. The WorkHealthy America web-based survey was distributed to every hospital in the state with 55 hospitals completing the survey.

The hospitals received a grade for tobacco, nutrition and physical activity based on the survey responses. Many hospitals were shocked to see D’s and F’s. Many of the hospitals had prevention efforts in their communities but were not attending to their own employees’ health. The report cards raised awareness of administrators and wellness coordinators about the need for prevention support for their employees. “These grades really reflect what you do changes lives and increases awareness about how a worksites policies and systems can promote or discourage health related behaviors,” stated Rozalynn Goodwin, SCHA Director of Policy Research.

Prior to the survey the SCHA had very limited information on what hospitals were doing regarding prevention. SCHA knew they wanted to change the focus from health benefits cost savings to how to improve the lives of their employees. They also knew they wanted it to be a comprehensive approach address nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco prevention. Goodwin stated, “We saw this as an opportunity to really make an impact inside our four walls, affecting 80,000 employees.”

Impact
The funding from Eat Smart, Move More SC provided the framework that SCHA needed to move forward with a comprehensive Working Well campaign. The SCHA and NC Prevention Partners submitted a proposal to The Duke Endowment to request funding for full implementation of Working Well. The high response rate of the survey demonstrated administration buy-in and the grades showed the need for employee prevention efforts.

The Duke Endowment funded SCHA and NC Prevention Partners 1.5 million dollars over three years to implement the Working Well initiative in all SC hospitals to assess, implement and maintain evidence-based policies designed around tobacco, nutrition, and physical activity to create an worksite environment supportive of healthy behaviors.  Today 42 hospitals, affecting 65,000 employees, have completed the WorkHealthy America assessment and are working to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their employees.

Progress
2011:  Approximately 41 hospitals, which employee more than 67,000 South Carolinians, made the commitment to the Working Well program. Participating hospitals incorporating healthy changes, such as sponsoring a farmers’ market on hospital grounds, connecting walking trails to nearby points of interest, and encouraging employees to stop smoking. Read the Executive Summary or watch the video.

Read more about Working Well Working Well Press Release

For More Information contact:
Jen Wright, SC Hospital Association, Working Well Manager
jwright@scha.org