April 8, 2013

Charleston Area Medical Center revamped its wellness initiative with the creation of a new wellness advisory group and wellness committee in 2010.

"In 2011, the committee branded a new program called My Health," said Maureen Kendall, corporate director of total compensation. "The focus of the My Health program is to develop activities that promote a long-term strategy aimed at improving overall employee health."

It is important for an organization the size of CAMC to promote health and wellness to its employees.

"Our workforce is about caring for our community," Kendall said. "The wellness program is about caring for our workforce."

To help with this initiative, a new wellness coordinator was hired in February. Evan Thoman came to CAMC from the YMCA, where he was director of health and fitness.

"Evan's education and work experience, along with our well-established wellness committee, will move us forward in meeting our long term strategy and commitment of improving our overall employee health," Kendall said.

CAMC is planning a number of new programs in the coming year, including a new walking program, smoking cessation program, diabetes program and online financial wellness program.

"Employees need to get involved in their wellness," Kendall said. "We are looking at programs in an effort to offer something for everyone. If you like to run, get involved in our Couch to 5K programs. If you like to walk, watch for announcements about a new walking program. If you are interested in weight loss, look at getting involved in Drop 10 in 10, Weight Watchers at Work or our new Team Lean program. And don't forget about the Dean Ornish programs, yoga and ZUMBA."

CAMC offers a variety of fitness and weight loss options for employees. In an effort to help them make healthier choices when visiting CAMC cafeterias, Morrison's has established the Morrison Healthy Dining Standards to ensure access to healthy food choices.

"We have begun reducing the size of dessert portions, offering low calorie and reduced sugar desserts on a daily basis and offering healthier snacks at the register stands, such as baked chips and bottled waters," said Danny J. Foster, nutrition services. "Marketing and placement of products also is important so that the healthier choices are the default options."

Which means fruit and baked chips at the registers instead of giant cookies and other large desserts, and water placed at eye-level with sugary sodas not as readily available.

"We are offering Great Living and reduced-calorie entrée and side items daily, and offering fruit as a side option at the grill area," Foster said. "We are also training our service staff on proper portions and educating them on recommending better for you options that meet our FIT criteria."

Items marked as FIT meet criteria consistent with current dietary recommendations for the amount of calories, fat and sodium etc., allowed in various items.

Some of Morrison's longer term goals include reducing the amount of fried foods sold annually, increasing annual purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables, adding whole wheat and whole grain breads, buns and rolls as a default option, including calorie counts on all available food options, offering healthy FIT combos for every meal, bundling combo meals with bottled water instead of soft drinks and continuing education of the staff.

"Morrison feels that health care institutions should be role models in healthy eating choices," Foster said. "We feel very fortunate to have been selected as leaders of this nationwide endeavor."

If you have any questions about Wellness related programs at CAMC, please contact Evan Thoman, wellness coordinator, at (304) 388-7593.

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