Wellness Connection aims to help employees lead healthy lifestyle

Wellness Connection, the new employee wellness program through the Office of Human Resources at Washington University in St. Louis, is focused on helping employees lead a healthy lifestyle.

Fostering holistic growth – spiritually, financially, physically, socially and emotionally — the wellness program’s well-rounded approach aims to expand resources and connect employees to opportunities across the university to enhance their well-being.

“Wellness Connection is important to the university community as it supports our most valuable resource, our employees,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “It is essential that our faculty and staff remain healthy so they can excel and continue to make contributions that are critical to our overall success and help us achieve our mission of research, teaching, service and patient care.”

Wellness Connection is committed to developing evidence-based, data-driven programs and will tap into existing initiatives on both the Danforth and Medical campuses.

“The Office of Human Resources focuses on empowering and supporting university employees,” said Lorraine Goffe-Rush, vice chancellor for human resources. “Through Wellness Connection, we can offer employees tools and opportunities that encourage healthy decision-making on their personal path to wellness.”

Building on current programs and initiatives and listening to employee input, Wellness Connection is evolving to match the needs and interests of the university community. “We think it’s important that people have a voice,” said Emily Page, employee wellness manager. “The programs will have a bigger impact on employees’ health and wellness if they reflect their needs and input.”

Wellness Connection recently announced its partnership with WebMD Health Services to offer benefits-eligible faculty, staff, clinical fellows and postdoctoral appointees sophisticated tools for working toward personal wellness goals.

When employees register for their Wash U WebMD Portal, they have the ability to take steps toward making healthy changes and tracking their personal health.

Through the Wash U WebMD Portal, employees can sign up for a free biometric screening to set a personal baseline for tracking areas such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose and BMI. Employees have several options for completing their screening, including on-site events at 12 locations throughout the university. These 15-minute screenings start Wednesday, Feb. 18, and are available by appointment only. Employees are encouraged to schedule early to get their preferred date and time.

Employees can also complete the WebMD Health Assessment through their portal. The 20-minute online assessment provides a personalized report on current health standings, focusing on medical history, diet, exercise and sleep habits.

“From the very beginning, we’ve been sensitive to employees’ desire for privacy regarding their personal health,” Page said. “That’s why we’re partnering with WebMD. Wellness Connection will never have access to an individual employee’s health information. Their personal health assessment and biometric screening responses will remain private.”

Employees who sign up for a biometric screening and complete their health assessment through WebMD by March 31 will receive a $50 gift card and be entered into a drawing to win an additional $100 Visa gift card.

“Knowing the program can change someone’s life for the better motivates us to provide a benefit that meets the needs of our faculty and staff,” said Linda Hack, director of benefits and compensation. “We want employees to take advantage of the programs and resources offered through Wellness Connection to help support the little steps we can take that can lead to life style changes.”

Wellness Connection is coordinating mammography screenings for Washington University employees through the Siteman Cancer Center. In February, the Siteman Cancer Center Mammography Van will be at various locations on campus to provide women a convenient, annual screening.

“We know that age-appropriate screenings for certain conditions, such as breast cancer and colon cancer, can allow early detection, more effective treatment and better clinical outcomes for these conditions,” said James P. Crane, MD, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the School of Medicine.

Wellness Connection also is working with the School of Medicine’s Center for Smoking Cessation to establish a university smoking cessation program available to any employee who desires to make a successful quit attempt. The program will offer free individual counseling and group workshops that can increase employee knowledge of effective quit strategies and enhance their confidence in changing their behavior.

Collaborating with university physicians, faculty, staff and health and wellness-focused organizations, Wellness Connection is dedicated to providing year-round, on-campus programming, screenings and opportunities that support employees’ personal well-being goals.

“I hope that employees will support one another in this new wellness program and will take advantage of the opportunity to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, both for themselves and their families,” Crane said.

Wellness Connection aims to create an environment where employees can motivate themselves to make healthy decisions and find support within the university community to live their best life.

“Employee wellness is important because we spend a significant amount of time at work,” Page said. “Our work environment has a big impact on our choices that we make about health and well-being.”

Wellness Connection invites employee feedback on what they want this program to be and where they are focusing their personal wellness efforts.

To learn more, visit wellnessconnection.wustl.edu.