CLINTON, SC – November 14, 2011 – Working Well, a collaboration between the South Carolina Hospital Association and NC Prevention Partners, has recognized the Laurens County Health Care System as the first hospital in South Carolina to meet its Gold Apple standard. The Gold Apple recognizes hospitals for meeting the highest standard of excellence for the healthy food environments offered to employees and visitors. Funded by The Duke Endowment, and informed by NC Prevention Partners’ success in developing infrastructure for effective worksite wellness programs in North Carolina, Working Well is an effort to improve the health of hospital employees across the state of South Carolina by creating worksite wellness environments that support hospital employees’ healthy choices.
In order to receive this recognition, Laurens County Health Care System (LCHCS) addressed several aspects of how they provide, price, and market healthy food options, as recommended by NC Prevention Partners. LCHCS worked with their food management company, Sodexo, to provide healthy options at every station and to post nutrition information for all items in the cafeteria. A Green Plate Special is provided daily to highlight a healthy meal that’s available at a reduced cost. New grab-and-go options were added so employees can make healthy choices when on the run or when the cafeteria isn’t open. Ensuring that healthy items are also affordable has been shown to be an important step in supporting nutritious eating, so LCHCS has discounted the cost of the salad bar and non-sweetened beverages, while increasing the cost of French fries and sodas.
Beyond the cafeteria, LCHCS is using education and benefits to support healthy behaviors. Newsletters and bulletin boards educate employees about the importance of healthy eating, the changes that have been made in the cafeteria and the programs that are available to employees who want to be healthier. All employees have access to nutrition counseling as a health insurance benefit, and an on-site registered nurse helps employees set goals related to nutrition and weight loss. LCHCS employees can also participate in weight management programs at work.
“Already South Carolina’s first Gold Star hospital for their efforts to support tobacco free living among their employees, Laurens once again displays their commitment to establishing a culture of wellness on their campus, this time by providing easy and affordable access to healthy food,” commented Jen Wright, Working Well manager with the South Carolina Hospital Association. “Under the strong leadership of CEO, Rich D’Alberto, it is no surprise that Laurens County Health Care System has two firsts under their belt."
Obesity rates have a significant impact on health, with higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as a high economic cost. Providing access to delicious and affordable food in hospitals has been recognized as an innovative approach to addressing the obesity epidemic by the Department of Health and Human Services. “Laurens is leading the way for South Carolina hospitals to set a national standard of excellence in nutrition,” said Anne Thornhill, senior health promotion manager with NC Prevention Partners, who lead the healthy food initiative in North Carolina hospitals. “Hospitals serve millions of meals a year to their employees. By providing easy access to delicious and affordable foods that are part of a healthy diet, we can reverse the trend of the obesity epidemic, one meal at a time.”
Rich D’Alberto, President and CEO of LCHCS recognized this achievement as an important step in supporting healthier employees and creating a healthier South Carolina.