USNH Celebrates 25 Years of Wellness Promotion and Programming to Employees
By Matt Cookson, USNH
February 28, 2007
Actively promoting wellness to employees is not only good and responsible
policy; it is a good investment that can help reduce health care costs.
These are a few of the lessons learned at the USNH, which is celebrating
25 years of comprehensive wellness promotion and programming this year.
What began as a pilot program at Keene State College and USNH in 1982
has become a system-wide approach to wellness that serves faculty and staff
across the state at UNH, Plymouth State University, Keene State College,
and Granite State College, as well as the University System offices. The
USNH wellness program effort, entitled “Embrace Life Fully” or
ELF, has offered courses, screenings, and programs to show USNH staff members
how to live happier and healthier lives.
Thousands of employees have benefited from programs including colorectal
cancer, blood pressure, cholesterol, and life line screenings, weight management
programs, the employee assistance program (EAP), and the “step the
system” walking program, among several others.
Wellness promotion is an integral part of the services provided by the
USNH human resources department and coordinated by Nancy Puglisi, PhD,
director of organizational wellness.
“Wellness programs at USNH have been evolving for a quarter of a
century and have had the support of the leadership at USNH. We have been
able to institutionalize our efforts by working with our benefits providers
to incorporate many new and innovative programs into our employee benefits
package,” Puglisi said.
Puglisi helped develop the pilot program 25 years ago. After two years,
evaluation data from this program showed a significant return on investment
in reducing health care costs. As a result, the USNH Board of Trustees
supported an effort to expand programs statewide, and continue to innovate
in terms of providing organizational wellness services. These efforts were
recently featured by the National Wellness Institute in an in-depth article
in their quarterly newsletter, Wellness Management.
“Many faculty and staff member's lives have been changed by participating
in health screenings and wellness education,” said Joan Tambling,
the USNH director of human resources. “These screening programs have
detected hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterols, cardiovascular
illness and cancer, and early detection provides opportunities for health
care professionals to intervene in the initial stages of the illness resulting
in excellent prognosis. The individual is spared invasive procedures and
less money is spent on surgeries and other medical protocols. Prevention
is indeed worth a pound of cure,” she added.
The ELF Program is available to the more than 4,300 benefits-eligible
employees across USNH. Some screenings and wellness programs are free,
while others require a nominal payment from faculty and staff. Other components
of the USNH wellness efforts include organizational wellness efforts such
as reducing stress in the workplace, promoting improved communications,
and improving the workforce culture.
“As employees embrace healthier life habits, we see a ripple effect
on their families and fellow employees,” Puglisi said. “USNH
has recognized the intrinsic value of wellness for 25 years and while we
have seen some financial benefits from these efforts, the true value is
having a healthier and more productive faculty and staff.”