Marion Body Works Invests in Employee Health for the Long Haul
More than 10 years ago, Curt Ignacio was thinking about his now-270 employees at Marion Body Works and how to do right by them as they ticked off years of loyal service to his family-owned business. A manufacturer of commercial truck bodies, custom aluminum fire apparatus, and all-aluminum truck cabs and defense vehicle bodies since 1905, the company runs three shifts and employees spend long hours on the production floor, many of them with plans to retire from the third-generation Waupaca County business.
“You hear about people working their whole lives, then retiring and dying shortly thereafter, or being so spent, physically, that they can’t play with their grandkids or move around comfortably,” Ignacio said. “I needed to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could to ensure their health now, and in the future. That’s when we started a wellness committee and then added a health coach in 2013.”
Bridget Lauer of ThedaCare At Work is the company’s current health coach, member of the Marion Body Works wellness committee, and an important person in helping employees address their individual healthcare needs. On site 12 hours per week, “she helps our people connect with the people they need within ThedaCare, checks blood pressure, but most of all, she gives us new ideas for how to live healthier and safer lives. Every small step in the right direction helps,” Ignacio said.
Lauer helps employees facilitate health challenges like a recent one-month walking challenge and helps the committee plan healthy lunch and snack days “that have gone over surprisingly well,” joked Ignacio, because he wasn’t sure how well fruit days, salad-and-grilled chicken lunches, and yogurt day would fly with the employees who lean more towards meat and potatoes. Again, Ignacio reminded himself, “I can’t force them to make changes, but I have to do what I can.”
When an employee kicks the cigarette habit or anonymously taps into ThedaCare At Work’s employee assistance program (EAP) for help with a family, mental health, or substance abuse problem, Ignacio is proud of them. “Nowadays, there is so much an employer can’t ask or know about. You might hear through the grapevine that someone is dealing with something in their lives, or in their family, and privacy laws prevent the company from getting involved,” he said. “That’s where Bridget is indispensible. She is a completely confidential link to a whole list of services that many of our employees would not normally have or be aware of.”
ThedaCare At Work facilitates annual health risk assessments (HRAs) for Marion Body Works employees and spouses, a program where blood work and weight and lifestyle checks help address existing health risks before they become emergencies. “For people who may not typically go to the doctor for preventive care, I think this is a great value,” Ignacio said. Significant health concerns are flagged and employees can follow up with their own providers for care.
In addition to pre-employment drug screening and annual audiology tests, should someone strain a muscle or get a minor cut on the job, the dedicated ThedaCare At Work nurse practitioner Jill Olson, APNP, located at the ThedaCare clinic in Shawano, is the employee’s first stop, not their personal doctor or the ER. The arrangement saves significant time and money for the company and employees.
A second benefit to having Olson on the team is her ability to assess when an employee is ready to return to work. “Even if an employee is off work for something that’s not work-related, I still want him assessed by Jill,” Ignacio said. “She understands that person’s work responsibilities and physical requirements. I need to know that they’ll be safe and healthy on the production floor, for themselves and their co-workers.”
Marion Body Works has long had an excellent OSHA safety record, but Ignacio’s motivation goes beyond regulatory obligations. “I want our people who’ve worked all their lives to have a long and happy retirement. ThedaCare At Work helps me ensure that we’ve done our best to take care of our own.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.