Emergency responders know that workplace wellness changes lives
Emergency responders know it’s important to stay healthy; they regularly see people who suffer strokes, heart attacks, falls or worse.
With help from a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) workplace wellness collaborative, Meds-1, an emergency response and community health organization in Grand Rapids, started efforts that help employees be healthier. The company was one of eight employers in Itasca County that worked with a workplace wellness coordinator through a 12-month process.
The initiative came through Get Fit Itasca's Worksite Wellness collaborative, which was funded through SHIP, and Healthy Northland, SHIP’s northeastern Minnesota grantee.
The true reward is that our employees are healthier and they have a chance to be good role models in the community. - Tim George, Director of Emergency Medical Services and Community Health Outreach for Meds-1
As a result of that work, the company made changes and is seeing benefits. For example, it reported a 12 percent decrease in workers’ compensation claims. The results were recorded after the workplace wellness efforts started.
“The true reward is that our employees are healthier and they have a chance to be good role models in the community,” said Tim George, Director of Emergency Medical Services and Community Health Outreach for Meds-1.
“We have a lot of direct patient contact and what we see out there affects us. We see people with health risks all the time,” he said.
Employer gains go beyond the monetary
As demonstrated by Meds-1, workplace wellness can have significant benefits for participating companies.
“Changes in health attitudes can spin off into the community,” George said. “The most conservative employers, once they see the financial benefits and lifestyle changes, are going to grab onto these concepts. SHIP dollars are well spent.”
As part of the collaborative, representatives from each of the eight companies met monthly to support each other and exchanged information about available resources and opportunities for mini-grants to implement new policies and systems at their organizations that could directly affect environmental change.
In response, Meds-1 worked to find more ways to keep its workforce healthy. The company expanded its existing tobacco-free/tobacco cessation and breastfeeding support policies by adding a nutritional effort and an on-site fitness program.
“We set aside an area at our site where we used to store ambulance and emergency vehicle supplies and converted it into the workout area,” George said. “Our employees really took it on themselves and turned that area into a really nice, well-equipped space.”