The Rockland County Department of Health received a grant focusing on worksite wellness from the New York State Department of Health. Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef announced the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play grant deals with improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, providing breastfeeding support to new mothers returning to work, helping employees quit smoking, encouraging health screenings, and providing incentives for the adoption of healthy behaviors.
The Health Department, whose Division of Health Promotion and Education applied for the funds, has established partnerships with 13 small and mid-size Rockland employers with a combined total of 4,809 employees. Among the participants are: Active International, AERCO International, Nyack Hospital, Hunter Douglas and St. Dominic's Home.
Active International of Pearl River measured a 1-mile walking route outside their building to encourage staff to take physical activity breaks. Throughout 2011, the company offered a series of six-week walking & fitness challenges using pedometers to track steps, and provided prizes each week. More than 100 employees participated in each of the first two challenges. The fitness challenges are part of a larger incentive program where employees can receive up to $200 per year for participating in a specified number of health wellness activities.
AERCO, International of Blauvelt measured an outdoor walking path and recently completed a six-week walking challenge which awarded participating employees weekly raffle prizes. The firm began offering a monthly lunch & learn series and yoga classes.
Caribbean Food Delights ran Nyack Hospital’s eight-week Lose to Win weight loss program in fall 2011. It included Zumba classes after work for employees, creation of an onsite fitness area with exercise equipment including treadmills, stationary bicycles, and elliptical machines, and a recently measured walking path around the perimeter of their site.
The Clarkstown Central School District and Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg are installing outdoor Fit-Trail systems with a series of 10 exercise stations in each.
Dominican College in Blauvlet created a private space for mothers returning to work to use for breastfeeding. This private space contains a rocking chair, footstool, and refrigerator, and is also available for use by students. Dominican College also measured a one-mile walking route around campus and held a walking kick-off event on April 26th for staff and students.
Hunter Douglas in Pearl River launched a formalized Employee Wellness Program in 2011 and participated in Employee Wellness Month during June with a variety of activities including an Employee Walk, an 8-week Total Body Fitness/Cardio Class and the Lose to Win weight loss program. Most recently, employees participated in a division-by-division walking challenge through the Virgin HealthMiles Wellness Program, and winners were awarded prizes.
The Mental Health Association of Rockland sent its Office Manager Lynn O’Connor to get trained last year in Nyack Hospital’s Lose to Win weight loss program. She offered the program to 11 employees last summer. Her class lost a combined 61 pounds, and participants are still checking in with her for periodic weigh-ins.
Rockland BOCES in West Nyack and St. Dominic’s Home in Blauvelt are both currently working on creating opportunities for physical activity in the workplace, and have recently purchased exercise DVD’s, weights, resistance bands, and other small exercise equipment for their employees to use.
The Rockland County Department of Health and Summit Park Hospital & Nursing Home have been partnering on several wellness initiatives since both
agencies are located in the Yeager Health Complex in Pomona. The joint
department worksite wellness committee placed motivational “Take the Stairs” messages at elevators and stairwells, implemented a healthy dining campaign in the cafeteria featuring a Healthy Cart with affordable, healthy snacks, created a “Buy 9 Health Lunches, Get the 10th Free” campaign, and began a twice-weekly walking club.
Worksites were presented with an award to recognize their accomplishments at a luncheon held at Rockland BOCES. On average, people spend more than half of their waking hours in the workplace. The event brought together many of the partners to thank them for their commitment to making Rockland County a healthier community in which to live, work and play.
The Health Department was awarded the grant in October 2010. The worksite
component of the grant provides $75,000 annually for a period of five years ending in 2015.
“We are happy to partner with employers in our area and offer employees options to be active and be healthy,” said Vanderhoef. “Our Health Department continues to offer residents programs and services to improve overall wellness and we commend them for their efforts.”
The Health Department is recruiting additional employers to participate in the worksite wellness program. Worksites receive mini-award funding for sustainable wellness projects, technical assistance and resources to implement a variety of wellness activities. Resources include onsite educational programs like Tai Chi, walking path measurement and signage, Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Fat screenings, Tobacco Free Zone signs and referrals to community wellness resources.
Companies interested in joining the program should contact Coordinator Melanie Shefchik in the Health Department at (834) 364-3786.