Posts tagged: health and wellness programs

Annuvia Applies Defibrillator to Hunger

Annuvia’s mission of creating healthier, safer, more prepared communities is not limited to only providing CPR and AED classes and first aid training. Annuvia holds regular volunteering opportunities for its employees as part of the organization’s Social Responsibility Plan. Causes range from the environment and recycling, to pro-bono safety training services and hunger. Just two weeks back, Annuvia’s Operations Team applied a massive, multi-volunteer, defibrillation “shock” to hunger. Working in partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank, staff from Annuvia’s headquarters location volunteered first thing in the morning on Saturday, February 6, 2010 and didn’t stop until the pallets of food no longer rolled in for re-packaging.

When the volunteers arrived they walked in to an enormous warehouse stocked full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Carrots and grapefruit were literally stored in giant cardboard boxes and the task was to separate and box the produce into smaller, more portable, boxes for distribution throughout the community. Working in unison, Annuvia’s staff devised a strategy and appointed positions to quickly handle the flood of healthy food. Soon, the music was turned on and the event was turned into a contest!

Annuvia is always looking to strengthen our relationship with like-minded organizations and we’re fortunate to be located in the heart of San Francisco, near many of the country’s leading organizations. If you or your organization would like to learn more about Annuvia’s Corporate Social Responsibility Plan or partner with Annuvia on their next, up-coming volunteer activity, send an email to Annuvia at info@annuvia.com with details on how you’d like to help.

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Risk Reduction = Premium Reduction

Converse to the usual insurance company policy of increasing premiums for riskier drivers, some employers are now offering to reduce health insurance premiums for employees that take steps to reduce their individual risk for illness. Literally. Virgin Airlines is among these companies. This employer has issued pedometers to interested employees to track the number of steps taken each day. Those meeting previously set goals will find the rewards in their pay checks as well as on the bathroom scales and in increased wellness.

Although a pilot program now, Virgin hopes to reduce its annual health care premiums and pass the savings on to the employees choosing a healthier lifestyle. Currently all employees of most companies are charged the same premiums for the same levels of coverage regardless of lifestyle choices. It has been argued elsewhere effectively that it is easier to choose a healthy lifestyle than it is to attempt to medicate a way out of poorly made choices. Unsaid is that it is also much less expensive for the insurance company, too.

Arguably more money invested in employee wellness will be returned in the form of higher productivity, fewer days off the job, and lower insurance premiums. Passing the difference along to eligible employees will encourage worker buy in and encourage those reluctant to take steps toward wellness to start with small goals. This appears to be the ultimate win-win situation for workers and employers alike.

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How Much Caution Is Too Much?

Anthony Troupe, Jr., 13, collapsed in the third week of August on a St. Louis high school football field while running laps before football practice. Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. Inspite of heroic CPR attempts, Anthony died of a sudden cardiac event related to a previously undiagnosed heart problem. He had passed his mandatory sports physical shortly before, but that physical did not include any sort of EKG heart testing. In Anthony’s case, there was a family history of heart disease evidenced by his father’s sudden death at the age of 45 after working a night shift in April, 2007.

Could Anthony’s life have been saved if a EKG test was a requirement prior to playing prep sports? There are an estimated 7 million high school athletes in the United States; should every one be tested for subtle heart defects that could potentially cause cardiac arrest during strenuous sports? In Italy, there is a national screening program that is credited with lowering the incidence of sudden cardiac death among young athletes. Can such a program be attempted in the much bigger United States with the same results? Should it?

Perhaps the answer does not lie in an all or nothing approach. Bruce Whitehead, the executive director of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association of middle and high school athletic directors, believes that such tests are indicated when a student athlete’s background indicates the presence of heart disease. This middle ground would no doubt catch undiagnosed heart conditions in a number of cases, but there will still be some victims with no known risk factors. Perhaps the parents of all student athletes should be given the information and the statistics and make their own informed decisions about whether to test or not. An unnecessary EKG would be far better than living with the pain of losing your child the way Anthony’s mother lost him.

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Healthy Schools: Wellness and AED units

Many column inches in the daily newspapers have been devoted lately to increasing the nutritional value of the food offerings in our public schools. Like it or not, nearly all of America’s students eligible for free or reduced school lunch programs now eat both breakfast and lunch at school. Effectively, the American taxpayer is responsible for two thirds of the students’ daily nutrition. This is a significant charge for all of us and the fact that we are not doing very well by these children and young adults was recognized recently by 250 nation-wide “eat-ins.” In many areas these well organized “slow food” events did encourage people to think about the possibility of offering more local, fresh ingredients to our students on a daily basis. Certainly, wellness is a topic deserving mush more media attention. Unlike reactive solutions like prescription drugs, emergency treatment options, and health insurance overhauls, or preventative techniques like health screenings, cholesterol testing, or colonoscopies, wellness is a solution to train individuals to make positive, transformative, life-altering decisions – forever.

But what of a more pressing and immediate health issue; that of sudden cardiac arrest, an interruption in the normal heart rhythm, taking the lives of 7,000 to 10,000 school children each year. What about an organized “heart-in” in which cardiac screenings, CPR training, and AED Defibrillator instruction would be available for all student athletes? Of course a healthy diet is desirable, but a healthy heart is much more immediately necessary for any student engaging in vigorous physical activity.

Why limit CPR and AED training to the adults in charge of youth sports? The students themselves are much more likely to work out with peers on and off the field, thus far more likely to be closer to a victim in a sudden cardiac emergency than is the coach or referee or even the paramedic assigned to the event, if there is one.

Preparedness could easily be as much a part of sports training as are the ubiquitous push ups and crunches. The audience is already there and willing to be instructed. Because of the nature of the leisure time activities in which this age group engages, the idea of using an AED device is a natural and not to be feared. There exists a huge untapped resource of potential life savers today in our own schools. Train them to save lives today and continue to work toward providing them healthy nutrition in the longer run.

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Changing Demographics in the Workplace and its Effect on Corporate Health & Wellness Programs

An unanticipated side effect of the current economic climate is the changing demographic in the workplace. Long time employees are staying on the job and retiring later than did their predecessors, uncertainty about the future coupled with the fact that Social Security benefits that are not fully payable until age 66. More than one retiree has stayed in the workplace several years past a planned retirement date to hedge against shaky company pension funds.

But what of the younger worker, commonly referred to as Gen X? Clearly, as fewer workers are choosing retirement, correspondingly fewer younger workers are being hired. This change has greatly affected the demographics of the work place leading to a general graying of employees. The factors are far reaching, not the least of which is an impact upon corporate health and wellness care benefits. A shift from an emphasis upon health care for middle aged workers–traditionally a low risk group to insure– to the needs of workers previously considered “retirement age” has affected the amount of coverage employers are able to offer as well as the premium price tag employees and employers alike must pay due to higher risk factors associated with aging.

In spite of the fact that today’s “baby boomer” is more likely to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and less likely to smoke, there are health factors associated with aging such as high blood pressure and increased cardiac issues. Add to these the stress factor associated with the uncertain economy and the potential for strain upon the health care system is undeniable. Consider the strain upon the already thin company profit margin and the stress cycle begins anew.

It is time that employers recognize that the corporate health and wellness programs they provide must address the needs of the older worker. The risk for sudden cardiac arrest during exercise is twenty times as high as when at rest. Employers would be well advised to put into practice preventive programs as well as to equip all their workers with the skills necessary to address sudden cardiac arrest such as CPR training and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Unit deployment. The odds are that the longer a person lives and works, the greater the chance a cardiac event will be witnessed. The burden does not rest solely upon the employer, however. It is incumbent upon the older worker to make appropriate life style changes if needed as well as to become informed about interventions that may be necessary. This dual responsibility awareness forges the best possible work partnership, a situation where each is working with the other for mutual benefit.

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