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5:41 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Quad-city employers put wellness to work

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With the March 31 deadline for Affordable Care Act coverage fast approaching, some Prescott-area employers are targeting insurance costs at the source - supporting employee health.

Fann Contracting, West Yavapai Guidance Clinic and the Town of Prescott Valley are among a host of local employers that have been meeting for the last two years in an effort to help their employees stay healthy at work. Led by health service providers, the quarterly meetings provide a venue for managers of both new and seasoned worksite wellness programs to collaborate.

Diana Clemens, the Human Resources Administrator for Prescott Valley's Printpack, has been attending the meetings since they began. "We are in the middle of our first health challenge of the year," Clemens shared of the company's longtime employee wellness program. Among other strategies, the company offers employees a financial incentive for completing "challenges" that help maintain healthy behaviors. "It makes financial sense and helps our employees," said Clemens.

Yavapai Regional Medical Center's Human Resource Manager Brian DeVries recently spoke about the hospital's newly expanded employee health program "My Health." DeVries shared how the hospital's effort focuses on employee engagement to assess needs and interests. "We've established an employee wellness committee and are helping employees establish their own program," he said, adding that YRMC is building on existing wellness benefits, which have included free biometric screenings and wellness coaching for employees.

The wellness group collaborative is the brainchild of Jim Robak, a business owner who retired to Prescott in 1998. As a volunteer for the American Diabetes Association, Robak started the group as a way to further his personal mission - "making a real difference and helping others." Through the group, Robak and others are able share decades of successful business and worksite wellness experience with their peers. "Healthy employees make for healthy businesses and a healthy community - everybody wins," Robak noted. "Worksite wellness is an opportunity to save American businesses over $200 billion annually by preventing preventable chronic diseases, not to mention the productivity benefits of a healthy workforce."

Citing research by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Paul Katan, Health Policy Manager for Yavapai County Community Health Services, offers technical assistance to the group and area employers interested in developing healthy worksites. Working in partnership with the Arizona Small Business Association, Katan is able to direct support to local employers through the Healthy Arizona Worksites Program, which helps businesses implement proven strategies to improve employee health and the associated benefits. "We're lucky to have expert partners that can offer training and technical assistance," Katan said.

Robak shared that the group is ready to "take it to the next level." The group is open to new representatives of local businesses as well as local health and wellness service providers. The next meeting will be hosted by Yavapai Regional Medical Center on May 16.

If your business is interested in participating, email Robak at robakaz@cableone.net. If your business is interested in learning more about the Healthy Arizona Worksites Program, visit healthyazworksites.org or email Katan at paul.katan@yavapai.us.