Area companies initiating corporate wellness programs

LEWISTOWN – It can be difficult finding time to exercise, eat healthy and visit the doctor in between the demands of work and life.

However, a number of area businesses have started corporate wellness programs for employees, encouraging them to get active and stay healthy.

“As a major employer, it’s important to keep your workforce healthy,” said Dr. Kim Manganaro, family care physician at Geisinger-Lewistown. “It can increase productivity and decrease insurance costs, but it also helps employees feel better, do better and stay better.”

Based on data from Geisinger’s own wellness program, there’s a marked decrease in weight, cholesterol and blood pressure for employees who participate in such programs, Manganaro said. Encouragement and incentive to get healthy can make a huge difference for employees, she said.

“These programs create a community of wellness within a business,” Manganaro said. “It provides access to information, interactive goals and a chance for employees to work as a team. It’s very helpful to overall health.”

Kish Bank’s wellness program is coordinated by a committee of 12 representatives from across the service area. This specific program focuses on health information and education, said Beth Gilmore, member of the committee and representative from the Reedsville Financial Center.

“We do a variety of short campaigns throughout the year that focus on different health topics,” Gilmore said. “It can be anything from tobacco use to losing weight to drinking more water. In the past, we’ve also done a 10,000 steps walking challenge.”

Each campaign relates to creating a good work-life balance, Gilmore said. The information goes out through newsletter or email and is then discussed at each branch.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Wow, I need to drink more water’ or ‘I really need to get active again,'” Gilmore said. “There are some groups that walk together during their lunch break. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

One of the newest programs to the area is Mifflin County School District’s Summer Bucket List, the first of many health initiatives to be offered to school district employees. The list consists of individual and family activities that encourage mental and physical health, said Angela Wise, MCSD payroll supervisor and member of the wellness committee.

“We kicked-off the bucket list in June so everyone had the summer to complete it,” Wise said. “We’re going to have a ceremony where participants will receive prizes based on how much of the list they finished.”

The MCSD wellness committee was formed in response to a survey conducted among the staff, teachers and administration, Wise said. People were polled on a variety of issues including nutrition, exercise and stress.

“The response was overwhelming,” Wise said. “We were amazed at the concern people had for their health and their family’s health. It really gave us the kick we needed to do something.”

The wellness committee also plans to offer a number of activities throughout the school year like an activity day at Kish Park, free health screenings and a bus trip to build morale, Wise said.

“We want to always keep it fresh and introduce new things,” Wise said. “So far, everything has been received really well. We want employees to be happy and healthy, both for the students and for their families.”

Wellness programs are also available for employees of Lewistown Hospital, Philips Ultrasound, General Electric and First Quality.