Getting To The Heart Of Employee Health



When employees at Harrah’s Casino New Orleans were enrolled in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Workplace Health Solutions, a free workplace wellness program, Harrah’s health center manager Helen Ruiz, RN, said they hit the jackpot.

“AHA offers endless resources and expert advice on preventive health and wellness, and our company has reaped great rewards by partnering with the Workplace Health Solutions program,” she said. “This collaboration has helped us move in the right direction to meet our health goals for our employees. We have made changes in our dietary selections on property, increased our fitness opportunities and made improvements in chronic condition control.”

Ruiz said results among employees show lipid control has increased by 15.8 percent, hypertension control increased by 14 percent and body mass index (BMI) control increased by 9 percent.

“This collaboration has helped us host great educational events while having fun networking with community resources,” said Harrah’s Ruiz. “We look forward to a continued relationship with AHA’s Workplace Health Solutions and more positive outcomes for our team members.”

According to AHA research, employees with cardiovascular disease lose 56 hours more per year in productivity, cost $1,119 more per year in insurance and congestive heart failure costs all payers about $8,332 per person.

The AHA’s Workplace Health Solutions’ suite of science-based, evidence-informed tools, to help businesses build and maximize an effective workplace culture of health, guides employers to assess current programs and workplace environments, consult resources to make improvements, engage employees with tools and trackers to work toward ideal cardiovascular health, monitor progress with digital dashboards and qualify for annual AHA recognition.

To date, more than 800 companies have completed the AHA Workplace Health Achievement Index, Linzy Cotaya, APR, senior communications director of the American Heart Association in Louisiana, said, and 67 percent of those companies received either Gold, Silver or Bronze recognition.

The index was created by AHA’s CEO Roundtable and is a comprehensive organizational self-assessment of the heart health of a company’s workplace and employees based on Life’s Simple 7 – the AHA’s scientifically validated definition of ideal heart health. That ideal, Cotaya said, is achieved by smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, managing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and keeping blood sugar at a healthy level.

According to AHA’s scientific research, improving those seven factors can lead to significant reductions in heart disease, stroke, cancer and many other health problems. In addition, people who achieve ideal cardiovascular health by age 50 have a significantly lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and live an average of 10 years longer than people with two or more risk factors.

One study of a large business found annual employer healthcare costs were on average $2,021 less for employees with at least six ideal Life’s Simple 7 metrics compared to employees with two or fewer ideal Life’s Simple 7 metrics, AHA research found.

Employee heart health performance is based on aggregate data from the AHA’s My Life Check digital health assessment or qualifying data from another Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).

Brittany Carter, vice president of Crescent Bank & Trust, said during her seven years as an employee she’s taken advantage of the AHA program and is impressed by the results.

“I have had the pleasure of watching Crescent Bank & Trust’s wellness plan grow into the well-structured, robust program it is today,” she said. “I take full advantage of utilizing the bank’s program because I want to be healthy, not just for my benefit, but for my family. For me, to be with a company that truly cares for the wellness of its employees and not only encourages participation but incentivizes it, is what’s most rewarding. I appreciate working for an employer who values my health as much as I do.”

 

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Big Easy Biz by Leslie T. Snadowsky

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Leslie T. Snadowsky contributes to Biz New Orleans as a video blogcaster and Biz liaison for WWL/WUPL-TV. She’s contributed to Bloomberg NewsReutersThe Times-PicayuneThe New York Post and The Dallas Morning News, and appeared on CNN’s “Nancy Grace,” and “Jane Velez Mitchell,” and Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” She earned her BA from Newcomb College at Tulane University and her MS in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an exhibited and published rock photographer, Leslie enjoys live music and the eclectic culture of New Orleans. 

You can reach Leslie T. Snadowsky directly at Leslie@BizNewOrleans.com.

 

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