Office of Rural Health and Primary Care - aging services models

Successful Model for Rural and Underserved Communities

Saint Elizabeth’s Worksite Health Promotion Project

Target Population: Saint Elizabeth employees

Description: Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center launched its first rendition of its comprehensive worksite health promotion program in 2003. Objectives outlined the need to create a culture of wellness, address high utilization claims, and serve as an example to its community. Initially, wellness campaigns encouraged employee participation in activities that promoted more physical activity and improved nutrition. Small successes and increasing participation led to the formation of a more robust wellness initiative that includes: an on-site family wellness center; biometric screening/health risk assessment; clinical consultation/coaching; tobacco cessation and nicotine replacement products; LEARN Healthy Lifestyle series; Medication Therapy Management; chronic disease management programs; healthy cafeteria options; and an abundant of wellness education, activities, and resources.

Many of these offerings are free or discounted to encourage staff and family participation. Wellness Committee members incentivize employees to complete four core prerequisites (annual physical, yearly dental checkup, flu shot, and biometric screening/consultation). Upon fulfillment, participants are awarded $50, and are also eligible to earn up to $200 for completing tiered exercise and nutritional requirements. Saint Elizabeth’s is currently reaching out to local and area businesses and schools to share its wellness programs and resources to a broader market.

Impact: A culture of wellness has taken hold at Saint Elizabeth’s. In a recent culture assessment survey, 89 percent of staff confirmed that Saint Elizabeth’s supports employees’ efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. Currently, over 60 percent of its workforce is participating in onsite wellness programs and activities, with many adopting healthy habits and reducing risk factors. Between 2005 and 2010, the organization has realized an 11 percent improvement in biometric screening levels among program participants.

Lessons Learned: Many improvements and enhancements have been made since the founding of its wellness program. Wellness Committee members are committed to continually listening to employee feedback, breaking down barriers, and keeping it simple! Retooling systems so they are fresh, flexible and user-friendly are keys to success. This encourages employee retention rather than relapse. Saint Elizabeth’s stresses the importance of offering wellness programs that meet the needs of both high and low risk employees. Customization is also critical. Offering varying levels of participation (gold, silver, bronze) based on health status and physical ability ensures broad-based engagement.

As a smaller, rural medical center, Saint Elizabeth’s has struggled to sustain cost savings due to the significant impact one or two large claims can have on a small group market. Financial constraints make it impossible to hire dedicated staff to coordinate the wellness program. To overcome these challenges, Saint Elizabeth’s Wellness Committee members, who wear many hats, stress the importance of gaining administrative support, integrating wellness initiatives into its strategic plan, and continually enhancing and improving services to meet the needs of its workforce. As the largest employer in its community, Saint Elizabeth’s is a nexus of community resources and trust. According to Jim Root, Saint Elizabeth’s views its wellness programs as a way of fulfilling its mission, living its values, and protecting the health of its community.

Plans for the Future: Saint Elizabeth’s is reaching out to local and area businesses and schools to share its wellness programs and resources. 

Contact :
Jenny Schlagenhaft,
Director of Community Relations/Communications
Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center
1200 Grant Blvd. W.
Wabasha, MN 55981

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Updated Tuesday, February 03, 2015 at 09:05AM