Wellness program aims to keep Adventist employees healthy and productive

Poor health can be costly, particularly for employers. Given the rising rates of chronic health conditions, finding effective ways to improve employee health is good business. With one of the largest workforces in Montgomery County, Adventist HealthCare is fulfilling its mission of improving the health of people and communities within its own community of 6,000 employees.

“We recognize that helping our employees obtain optimal health and wellness is good for our business, but more important, it is part of our mission,” says Terry Forde, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare.

As part of its wellness initiative, Adventist HealthCare encourages employees to take breaks and be active outside.

As part of its wellness initiative, Adventist HealthCare encourages employees to take breaks and be active outside.

Adventist HealthCare began its current employee health journey in 2009 by matching high-risk employees with personal health nurses and coordinating care through primary care physicians. Adventist HealthCare also implemented wellness programs such as annual health risk assessments, an online wellness portal, discounted gym memberships, on-site activities and other wellness incentives through the health system’s employee wellness division, LifeWork Strategies. The changes reduced the cost of employee health plans and improved the health of employees. From 2011 to 2014, Adventist HealthCare’s per-member, per-month health plan costs rose just 4 percent compared with the national average increase of 19 percent.

“Data show that healthy and active employees are more productive and engaged, and that helps us meet our mission,” says Marta Brito-Perez, Adventist HealthCare’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare’s workplace wellness division, creates customized, effective employee wellness and assistance programs for both large and small companies. “We offer a one-stop shop for employers to access customized wellness solutions that improve employee health and productivity,” says Mindy Pierce, director of LifeWork Strategies.

“We are different from other companies offering wellness services because LifeWork Strategies is part of Adventist HealthCare, which has been providing health and wellness services to this community for more than 100 years.”

Extending the Reach of Employee Wellness

Adventist HealthCare’s employee wellness journey continues to expand through new programs. In 2014, the company began requiring spouses on the health plan to participate in health screenings and the health risk assessment program. Most recent, Adventist HealthCare began offering free fitness and work-life balance classes through wellness committees at its facilities including Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center in Takoma Park and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville.