About the Wellness Program

Overview

The Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University is West Virginia’s state medical institution, located in Morgantown, with over 8,000 employees. Three employers comprise the Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University, University Health Associates (UHA), WVU Hospitals (WVUH), and the Health Sciences Center at WVU (HSC at WVU). The nature of business is healthcare. UHA and WVUH are separate, nonprofit companies serving the people of West Virginia, western Maryland, and southwestern Pennsylvania.

Mission: The mission of The Wellness Program is to provide opportunities for all Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University employees and their families to create and maintain healthy and active lifestyles. By improving employees’ health, The Wellness Program’s mission supports the organization’s mission to provide a quality health care system to the citizens of West Virginia and the surrounding region.

Currently, The Wellness Program operates as its own department funded by each of the three entities comprising The Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University. The mergers and subsequent expansions of The Wellness Program serve to build a strong foundation for the achievement of wellness goals.

The Wellness Program functions to provide opportunities for employees to improve their cardiovascular health, decrease stress levels, improve nutrition, and enhance their quality of life by participating in regular physical activity as well as stress management and nutrition programs. Employees and their families have numerous fitness and recreation programs in which to participate. The Wellness Program serves to educate individuals and help them to identify and reduce risk factors associated with heart disease and other preventable diseases. The Wellness Program also strives to provide information to employees so that they make informed choices about their health and lifestyle habits. In addition, The Wellness Program provides ergonomic assessments to work areas and is involved in several collaborative efforts with various departments to decrease stress levels, absenteeism, and on-the-job injuries, as well as increase employee morale.

History

Each entity (UHA, WVUH, and HSC at WVU) of the Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University initially provided separate wellness programs and therefore applied for Well Workplace designations individually. In 1995, a merger of both the UHA and WVUH wellness programs created The Wellness Program serving two of the three entities that comprise the Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University. In 1997, HSC at WVU merged with The Wellness Program creating one program that served all employees at the Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University. In 1998, as one entity serving three organizations, the Health Sciences Campus of West Virginia University received the Gold Well Workplace award (renewal occurred in 2001 and again in 2004).

Executive Summary

Senior Level Support
Senior level support includes meetings with The Wellness Program Director and managers, directors, and vice presidents of each entity to discuss employee issues and areas of concern. Numerous directors and managers participate in wellness programs themselves as well as encourage employees to participate.

Wellness Team
The Wellness Team includes both Wellness and Ornish Program staff members from a variety of disciplines including Exercise Physiology, Health Education, Medicine, Nursing, Nutrition, Pastoral Care, and Stress Management. The Wellness Program, functioning as its own unit, is an established department within the institution and partners/collaborates as a resource throughout the Health Sciences Campus of WVU.

Data Collection
The Wellness Program tracks employee participation in all wellness programs though a database dating back to 1997 with 17,034 participants. This database also tracks Health Risk Assessment information that identifies high-risk individuals. An employee benefit awarded as Wellness Points reward healthy behaviors such as seat belt usage and avoidance of tobacco. Annually, a program evaluation survey is conducted among all employees.

Operating Plan
The Wellness Program strives to achieve maximum participation involvement by offering large-scale team programs with promotional campaigns and educational material. Individualized programs are also offered with one-on-one interaction for those who desire. Working to help shape and support policies that represent the welfare of all employees while rewarding those who take active responsibility to lead healthier and safer lives is an important goal of The Wellness Program.

Programs and Interventions
Various programs targeting exercise, stress management, nutrition and screenings are offered at one of the following levels; awareness, exercise, education, or behavior change. An example of some programming is: Free Weekly Health Screenings, Yoga, Nutritional Assessment, Personal Fitness Coaching, on site Wellness Center, and the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.

Supportive Environment
Numerous policies and benefits exist to protect the health and well-being of employees. Examples include health, liability, and life insurance; sick leave; paid time off; leaves of absence for medical, personal or family reasons; retirement plans; and access to the Employee Health and Wellness department. These benefits give employees access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Evaluation
General evaluation efforts include a needs assessment, a database to track wellness program participation, evaluations of clinical outcomes, an annual online survey conducted among all employees, and handwritten and online evaluation forms that provide feedback on programs in which employees have participated.