Notes from the Road: SC State University

South Carolina State University (SCSU) is located in Orangeburg, SC and is home to nearly 5,000 students and over 1,000 employees. SC State joined Working Well in February 2013 and hosted a site visit on September 10, 2013. The Working Well team was joined by Linda Payne and James Hobson from Orangeburg-Calhoun Ways to Wellness, who offer support and local assistance to Working Well organizations in the Orangeburg-Calhoun area. The site visit was hosted by Pinkey Carter, Director of the Brooks Health Center at SC State. Right away, we learned that SC State has access to many wonderful wellness benefits, programs, and resources through the State Health Plan (SHP) such as biometric screenings, educational workshops, an online health risk assessment, health coaching programs, online healthy living programs, a wellness incentive program, and rich preventive benefits. These resources are promoted through the Brooks Health Center to employees and covered dependents. While SCSU is off to a great start, we encouraged them to assemble a wellness committee to help assess, plan, implement, and evaluate employee wellness initiatives. A representative and diverse committee will help take SCSU’s employee wellness efforts to the next level!

SCSU is making great strides in the area of tobacco free people and places. Although they are not yet 100% tobacco free property, they are taking steps in that direction. They recently received funding from the SC Tobacco Collaborative to post enhanced tobacco free signage at building entrances. They also have a tobacco use surcharge in place through the SHP. The surcharge is not meant to be a punishment for tobacco users, but rather a motivator to help them quit. Another way that SCSU encourages their employees to become tobacco free is by offering comprehensive tobacco cessation resources like the Quit for Life program which offers health coaching and free nicotine replacement therapy, as well as prescription tobacco cessation medications on formulary. Recommendations for improvement include: expanding to a 100% tobacco free property policy, promoting the S.C. Tobacco Quitline as an alternative source of cessation counseling, and ensuring that tobacco receptacles are removed from any tobacco free areas to avoid mixed messaging.

SC State is also striving to provide a delicious, affordable, and healthy food environment for employees and students. SC State has an onsite cafeteria run by Sodexo. Sodexo uses nutrition criteria to define and label healthy menu items that are called “mindful” options. They also use icons to label foods that are organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and local. Sodexo also posts healthy recipes on their website. These are great ways to not only provide, but promote healthy and delicious foods at the workplace. Working Well recommends using this same strategy in snack and drink machines throughout campus by ensuring that healthy options are available and promoted through labeling and prominent product placement. SCSU also promotes proper nutrition through BlueCross BlueShield of SC’s Weight Management health coaching program that is available to employees and covered dependents. This should be regularly promoted through multiple channels, multiple times throughout the year. We also recommended contacting SC Prevention Partners to schedule a Weight Loss Skills workshop for employees. Another recommendation for improvement is to provide employees with access to fresh, local produce by organizing an onsite farmer’s market or produce delivery service, or community supported agriculture program.

Last but not least, SC State provides its employees with many opportunities for physical activity. SCSU has a fitness center onsite with cardio and resistance equipment that is available to all employees at no cost. Zumba, spin, and aerobics classes are also offered and employees are allowed to participate in intramural sports. Additionally, SCSU is a very walkable and bikeable campus with safe, well-maintained sidewalks and bike racks located throughout campus. There is also a swimming pool onsite that is available to employees, as well as several parkour stations set up throughout the campus. Although there used to be a marked walking trail, the signage has been removed over the years. Orangeburg-Calhoun Ways to Wellness has funding available and has offered to assist SCSU in establishing a marked walking trail. In terms of next steps, the Working Well team recommends posting additional point-of-decision prompts throughout campus such as stairwell flyers, offering additional physical activity programs such as the SC Prevention Partners Move It Or Lose It or Desk Top Fitness, and implementing a policy to encourage the use of paid breaks for physical activity.

If you are an SCHA member hospital and are not yet committed to the Working Well initiative, contact Operations Specialist Kendyl Schultz to get access to all the resources, networking, and technical assistance we offer. If you are a non-hospital worksite currently committed to Working Well, be sure to contact Corporate Wellness Specialist, Emily O’Sullivan to set up your site visit. Site visits are an integral piece of the success that worksites have achieved in this initiative.

06-26-2014 12:18 (EDT)