Keeping Your Employees Healthy
By Naomi Dillon
Debbie Zimmerman faints at the sight of blood, so you wouldn’t expect to find her working in the health care profession. As the wellness coordinator for Florida’s Polk County Public Schools, Zimmerman found a career in a less invasive, though no less critical part of health care: prevention.
As medical expenses continue to soar -- this year, U.S. health care costs are expected to top $2.2 trillion, with that figure projected to double by 2015 -- more employers, including school districts, are discovering that health promotion and intervention are sure strategies to contain what have been annual double-digit cost increases.
In fact, a 2005 survey by the Association of School Business Officials found that rising health care costs were the biggest concern for district budget officers, with 68 percent of respondents saying the escalating expenses have negatively impacted the academic services they provide students.
Wellness programs can help employees manage stress and learn more about the benefits of regular exercise and good nutrition. In doing so, they can manage chronic diseases and prevent major health problems, resulting in fewer sick days and visits to the hospital.
Nearly 94 percent of school districts surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control’s national School Health Polices and Programs 2006 study provided funding for or offered some sort of health promotion service, activity, or program and, of that group, 44 percent had someone overseeing the effort.
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