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September 12, 2013

ThedaCare Wins Well Workplace Award

The Wellness Council of America, in conjunction with the Wellness Council of Wisconsin, awarded ThedaCare a Platinum Well Workplace Award – its highest honor.

Health System Earns Platinum Status from Wellness Council of America

The Wellness Council of America, in conjunction with the Wellness Council of Wisconsin, awarded ThedaCare a Platinum Well Workplace Award – its highest honor.

The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) created the Well Workplace Awards to recognize employers who exhibit quality and excellence in promoting good health in the workplace through a pre-defined set of criteria. ThedaCare received the maximum amount of award points – 180 – in a variety of categories including creating cohesive wellness teams, collecting data to drive health efforts, creating a supportive healthy environment for employees, and consistently evaluating outcomes.

Maureen Pistone, senior vice president of human resources for ThedaCare, said the health system realized five years ago changes were needed since employees weren’t as healthy as they could be and risk of developing chronic disease, such as diabetes, was growing. Health insurance costs were also continuing to increase by double digits annually.

“We needed to do an encompassing initiative to improve employee health,” she said. “We wanted to make sure our health plan addressed employees’ needs as well as put programs in the workplace that encourage employees to improve their health.”

ThedaCare has multiple programs in place designed to improve employee health such as creating its own Health Risk Assessment tool to help employees and their spouses identify their possible risk of developing health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, said

Sandy Panzer, vice president of health services for ThedaCare At Work. Other initiatives to improve employee health include offering the Coronary Healthcare Improvement Program (CHIP) and Lifestyle 180 programs to workers to help them improve their health, and overhauling the health system’s cafeterias with healthier options, she said.

“After helping other employers improve the health of their workers and go through the Well Workplace Award process, we decided to take the time and apply for the award ourselves. The process is very comprehensive and required a time commitment,” Panzer said.

ThedaCare’s culture has definitely become more health-focused, Pistone said. “You don’t see as many unhealthy leftovers sitting back out in the kitchen area here at corporate, for example, and we now offer salad bar days once a week,” she said. “You’ll also see more employees walking during lunch break. It’s sometimes hard to measure your own progress so that’s why it’s gratifying to receive this award.”

Pistone credited ThedaCare CEO and President Dean Gruner, MD, and other senior leaders for their support of the Well Workplace initiatives. “These programs take time to show they’re working and you need to make that investment and commitment up front, but senior leaders are very supportive and see we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “All of our employees also deserve credit for making so many changes to improve their health.”

ThedaCare is also involved in the initiative to get the Fox Cities named a “Well City USA,” which is also determined by WELCOA.

“ThedaCare’s mission is to improve the health of the community and we needed to start with ourselves to be a good role model for the community,” Panzer said.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Those interested can follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.