St. Mary's Health Care System has been honored as a 2012 Gold-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association, demonstrating that St. Mary's provides numerous opportunities for employees to improve and maintain their health and fitness on and off the job.
"Employee wellness is critical to our success as our people are our most important resource," said Brian Evans, director of St. Mary's Corporate Health Services and liaison to the UGA Athletic Association. "Evidence shows that employees who are healthier are happier, more productive, have fewer absences and help to control medical costs for the organization."
St. Mary's promotes a culture of healthy living by encouraging physical activity through on-site exercise classes, a campus walking map with mileage information, discounts to St. Mary's Wellness Center, incentive programs throughout the year, healthy alternatives in the cafeteria, a full-time employee health nurse and a tobacco-free campus.
Evans also noted that over the past six months, St. Mary's has introduced monthly lunch-and-learn programs and a monthly wellness newsletter for staff and volunteers. In addition, St. Mary's Fresh Inspirations cafeteria offers healthy nutrition options at each meal with a wide choice of fresh fruits and veggies, salads, whole grains, lean meats and non-soda beverages.
Evans and his staff also run incentive-based exercise and wellness programs for employees. Recent examples include a team-based holiday weight challenge currently underway (teams compete for prizes based on their ability to maintain or lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year's), a "Biggest Winner" physical activity and weight-loss program, and a "70,000 steps in 7 days" competition.
In addition, employees can benefit from numerous other services, including annual health risk assessments and a complete lab work-up offered by Employee Health Services at no charge, plus discounted rates for Wellness Center membership, individual consultations with fitness specialists, and services such as therapeutic massage and personal training.
Safety is also an important part of St. Mary's healthy workplace culture, Evans said, with all employees able to take advantage of discounted rates for defensive driving classes and CPR/First Aid training. These classes, plus more advanced classes such as AED use and Advanced Cardiac Life Support, are provided free to employees who are required to have certifications as part of their employment.