Jackson County's proACTIVE Wellness Initiative
pAWI is a community initiative that successfully incorporated the local hospital, public health department, school district, and area businesses to build worksite wellness programs that have made a difference. In 2006, collaborating partners came together and became the proACTIVE Wellness Initiative (pAWI). From its onset through 2009, the pAWI designed seven unique wellness programs for area businesses, each with a diverse group of committed employees - many of whom did not see a medical professional on a regular basis.
Wellness surveys, Health Risk Assessments (HRA's), and food diaries helped determine health indicators and provided measures for improvement in behavioral habits relative to fitness and nutrition. Private consultations were offered to discuss individual results and set realistic goals to overcome any noted deficiencies. After the initial HRA's, participants completed eight programming sessions held at the worksite on work time, covering a wide range of topics related to wellness.
Related challenges and incentives were proposed each week along with a 2-month fitness challenge. One-on-one coaching, weigh-ins, and blood pressure checks with pAWI's Business Health Nurse were options for all participants to monitor progress, applaud successes, and address challenges.
Five months after onset, HRA's, Wellness Surveys, and food diaries were repeated to determine whether the educational programming, challenges, incentives, and coaching had a positive impact on behaviors and health status. pAWI successfully met the following goals:
1) Enhance access to primary and preventive health services through the collaboration of local health agencies, schools, and businesses.
2) Educate and encourage worksite populations to establish and maintain healthy lifestyles using supportive employers as an effective agency.
Some individuals experienced significant behavioral changes and improvements. When comparing the total number of HRA results in the high to extreme categories, the majority of biometric results improved. Individual screening tests and wellness surveys verified improvements, showing that behavioral impacts were made - more so when intervention was implemented. A secondary benefit included positive influences on spouses, family, co-workers as well as students.
Businesses in Jackson County have become more cognizant of the benefits of a healthier workforce. Healthier employees are in line to reduce the burden of health care costs. Other area businesses are learning of the program's effects and requesting similar services. pAWI Committee members were dedicated to sharing their expertise to make this project a success. An array of area professionals provided expertise for the programs and assisted in coordinating the project.
Participating employers were also engaged in the design and implementation of the programs. pAWI held quarterly conferences with similar worksite wellness collaborations and benefited from sharing challenges and successes. Discussion revolved around how initiatives could be replicated state-wide.Because of this project, partnerships with other health agencies and area businesses have been enhanced, employers are becoming more involved in promoting health, and a liaison between health care services and the community has strengthened.
In the communities' eyes, these partnerships are being formed not only to benefit from each other's resources, but to benefit the community. This has forged a win-win situation for everyone.