Building a Healthier South Carolina Workforce

For more information, contact:

Shalama C. Jackson
Communications Manager
South Carolina Hospital Association
803.744.3535
sjackson@scha.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) has received a three-year grant from The Duke Endowment to improve the health of hospital employees across the state by creating worksite wellness environments that support hospital employees’ healthy choices.

The “Working Well” initiative will focus on chronic disease prevention and will support South Carolina hospitals in their efforts to develop and implement wellness policies and work environments that promote better health, including tobacco-free behaviors, healthy eating, and increased physical activity.

“The workplace presents an excellent opportunity for supporting improvements in health behavior,” said Rozalynn Goodwin, SCHA Director of Policy Research. “At hospitals, many employees work eight to 12 hour shifts, eat at the cafeteria or out of vending machines, have access to cessation medications and counseling, and have peer support and resources for becoming more physically active.”

The initiative will be overseen through a partnership between the SCHA and NC Prevention Partners (NCPP), and will use NCPP’s signature WorkHealthy AmericaSM program to build on and work in conjunction with other health initiatives, such as those coordinated by Eat Smart, Move More SC. Much like a health-risk assessment for an organization, WorkHealthy AmericaSM evaluates a worksite’s wellness policies, benefits and environmental supports related to tobacco use, nutrition and physical activity. The program then generates recommendations for improvements and access to tools to allow hospitals to make changes efficiently.

“We are excited to use our experience with North Carolina hospitals to build on the great work already being done in South Carolina to promote healthier behaviors,” said NCPP Senior Program Manager Melva Fager Okun. “This partnership is setting the bar for worksite wellness in hospitals across the nation.”

Improving employee health not only makes workers more productive, it also enhances workers’ quality of life. Reducing the risk behaviors of tobacco use, poor nutrition and physical inactivity can decrease early and preventable disease and death.

“Transforming hospital environments is an effective way to improve our state’s population health because such transformations don’t just affect hospital employees, patients and visitors,” said Thornton Kirby, SCHA President and CEO. “Hospitals are some of the largest employers in their communities, so their impact extends far beyond their buildings. We have an opportunity to serve as catalysts for prevention.”

About the South Carolina Hospital Association

Founded in 1921, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state's hospitals and health care systems. Based in Columbia, SCHA works with its memebers to improve access, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all South Carolinians. The state's hospitals and health care systems employ more than 70,000 persons statewide.

About NC Prevention Partners

NC Prevention Partners is a leader in reducing preventable illness and early death in North Carolina caused by tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity. NCPP has received national recognition for its WorkHealthy America SM program, which assists private and public employers to improve employee health and reduce healthcare and productivity costs. In 2009 NCPP helped North Carolina’s acute care hospitals go 100 percent tobacco-free campus wide. Find out more at www.ncpreventionpartners.org.

About The Duke Endowment

The Duke Endowment, located in Charlotte, N.C., seeks to fulfill the legacy of James B. Duke by improving lives and communities in the Carolinas through higher education, health care, rural churches and children’s services. Since its inception, the Endowment has awarded nearly $2.7 billion in grants.


Released:
04-19-2011 12:00 (EDT)