Wednesday August 13, 2008

Campus Report Aug 13, 2008

The University will hold free on-campus health risk assessments in October.

In a project to boost employee wellness and reduce health care expenses, UD will hold free on-campus health screenings in October to determine what employees can do to stay well or whether they're at risk of developing illnesses.

The health risk assessments, which include a blood sample and a lifestyle questionnaire, will be conducted in the Kennedy Union Ballroom Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 7-8, by HealthWorks, an independent wellness consultant selected by UD.

They're strictly confidential, said Joyce Carter, vice president for human resources. The results are not shared with the University or with any of UD's health plans, and they in no way will affect an employee's eligibility for health coverage.

"This is about employee wellness," Carter said. "Good companies and organizations are doing this for their employees. If we catch health issues before they start, everyone wins. Employees benefit because they're healthy and feel good; the University benefits because healthy employees can come to work; and, healthy employees have lower health care expenses, and the University benefits from that."

The health profile, which will be mailed to the employee's home, will include a lipid profile, glucose reading, blood pressure and body mass index. On campus, Healthworks will hold sessions explaining how to interpret the results; individual consultations also will be available.

HealthWorks also will assemble all of the results into a cumulative health profile, and UD can then develop appropriate wellness programs that address areas that seem to be problems, said Beth Schwartz, employee benefits manager. For example, if a large number of UD employees show elevated risk for diabetes, UD can plan wellness programs about healthy eating, exercise and diabetes prevention.

Wellness is a sensible component of an employee health plan, Carter said. The cost of health care rose more than 14 percent in 2007 — a significant expense to the University, and the prices are only going up, she said. Wellness, prevention and early detection of illness can go a long way to reducing future health costs.

Besides getting the assessment free during the workday without having to drive to a doctor's office, each participant will receive a $25 gift card from Meijer and a book about healthy lifestyles.

"We chose the Meijer gift card as an incentive because we thought it could help employees out a little with the rising prices of groceries and gasoline," Carter said. Meijer also has been supportive of various UD programs.

TO REGISTER for the screenings online, see the HealthWorks Web site and click on "schedule an appointment." Or, call 513-751-1288. Note: Registrants should eat nothing for 10 to 12 hours before their appointments. Drinking water is highly encouraged.

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