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2013 Healthiest Employers: Indiana University Health

Tom Harton
August 16, 2013
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winner OR finalist 5,000+ EMPLOYEES

Indiana University Health champions healthy lives in body, mind and soul

iuhealth-bed-race-15col.jpg IU Health employees get exercise—and raise money—in the Bed Race & Boogie. (Photo provided)

Indiana University Health’s wellness program is so robust that it has an entire division whose purpose is to bring healthy habits to the broader community, and it’s been recognized nationally for its success.

IU Health’s Garden on the Go program, which brings healthy food to high-poverty neighborhoods, was represented when the White House convened various groups from around the country to share best practices in solving community problems.

Garden on the Go, which started in the summer of 2011 as a mobile produce truck visiting various neighborhoods around the city, has morphed into a year-round effort that every week sets up what amounts to a mini farmers’ market at 22 locations around the city.

logo-iuhealth-258.gifLisa Cole, manager of community outreach for IU Health, said the program recently recorded its 40,000th transaction. Garden on the Go partners with 22 organizations, such as public housing facilities and senior centers, that host the program inside their facilities.

Abandoning the produce truck model and moving the sales inside has been the key to Garden on the Go’s success, Cole said. It removes barriers such as access to the truck and inclement weather. Last summer’s heat “probably would have killed the program,” said Cole. Instead, it’s still winning awards, including this year’s State Health Commissioner’s Award for Public Health.

Of course the heart of IU Health’s wellness program remains focused on the hospital system’s 26,000 statewide employees.

Marcella Cooper, IU Health’s manager of employee wellness, notes that a hospital wellness program has to serve more than the needs of doctors and nurses; it has to serve those working in food service, housekeeping, information technology and other fields.

That diverse workforce, along with its round-the-clock schedule and various locations around the state, means IU Health has to communicate with employees in a variety of ways, from home mailings, to videos to emails. And at almost any meeting an employee goes to there is a “wellness moment” to discuss something that needs to be focused on from a wellness standpoint or to provide some kind of program update, Cooper said.

IU Health’s Wellness Champions program recruits willing employee participants to champion the wellness program among their coworkers. Then there’s the weekly “Sanctuary Moment,” an email that goes out every Monday that is “designed to give you a moment to reflect, feel, and restore your soul in these busy times.” A recent example discussed the benefits of drinking water and asked how spiritual needs could also be quenched.

The hospital’s wellness program includes more traditional elements, including a new wellness portal, which provides employees with access to their personal health information and tools, tips and resources to monitor and improve their health. It also features an emotional and spiritual well-being toolkit developed internally at IU Health.

There’s an employee health clinic, free health coaching and disease education and employee assistance counselors to help with stress management, personal crisis situations, conflict resolution and financial issues. Employees also have access to low-cost, onsite fitness centers and classes, walking maps and bike racks. A “Use the Stairs” campaign encourages people to forego elevator rides to build physical activity into their daily work routine. IU Health’s free Quit for Life program helps employees beat their smoking habits.

iuhealth-employees-at-salad-bar-15col.jpg IU Health is getting rid of junk food and fried food options. (Photo provided)

Food options at IU Health facilities are being upgraded as part of an effort undertaken with the national organization Partnership for a Healthier America.

IU Health is working to hit various benchmarks set out by the partnership, including eliminating junk food within five feet of the cash register and getting rid of fried food. One goal is to provide nutrition labeling for all cafeteria food options by next July.

More than 5,500 employees representing more than 20 IU Health entities participated in this year’s Employee Weight Loss Challenge, a source of camaraderie and friendly competition for employees statewide. Sometimes other competitions are extended to outside organizations. In Bloomington, for example, hospital employees are challenging Bloomington’s city employees in a variety of competitions, Cooper said.

“People spend so much of their lives at work, so if we can help them live their best lives it can trickle down to their family and community,” Cooper said.•

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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