Rocky Mountain Health Plans among top wellness employers

Shelley Carpenter, an employee with Rocky Mountain Health Plans, works out in the Revolution Center at the office.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans is one of 10 worksites in the United States to receive the 2012 Platinum Well Workplace Award.

The platinum award is the highest honor bestowed by The Wellness Councils of America, an Omaha, Neb.-based nonprofit focused on wellness promotion. The councils start by awarding companies that apply a bronze award for meeting baseline criteria for developing workplace-based wellness programing. As companies grow their wellness programs and show measurable results for improving the health of their workers, bronze companies can apply for recognition as silver and then gold companies. Platinum companies must be invited to apply for the councils’ highest award.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans earned a Bronze Well Workplace Award in 2006 and skipped the silver to earn a Gold Well Workplace Award in 2009. The Grand Junction-based company was invited to apply for platinum honors in 2010. The application process takes nearly three years, according to Rocky Mountain Health Plans Wellness Promotion Administrator Sheryl VanHole, and involves meeting seven benchmarks: involving the company’s chief executive officer in wellness program implementation; creating a wellness team; collecting a variety of health data from employees; crafting an operating plan with goals, objectives and time-lines; creating a supportive environment for workers; choosing initiatives that focus on healthy eating, exercise, stress management, medical self-care, and nixing tobacco use; and consistently evaluating results from each initiative.

Some of the initiatives designed to improve health among Rocky Mountain Health Plans employees include having an on-site gym, offering on-site yoga and massages, hosting an on-site tobacco cessation program and financial counseling, and offering optional health-risk appraisals each year so employees can figure out which health issues they have, which health issues they are at risk for developing, and how they can halt or delay future medical issues. VanHole said health initiatives at the company have helped employees lower their instance of nicotine use by 41 percent over six years, increased productivity, and helped workers lose pounds and inches.

Future plans for worksite wellness at Rocky Mountain Health Plans include implementing a tobacco-free workplace policy and incorporating social media, blogs and other tools to induce employees to concentrate on their health.

Platinum winners have to re-apply every three years to maintain their status and keep proving their programs are working. It’s a hefty amount of work, VanHole said, but something the company plans to continue to do.

“We want to be a leader in health care and we are a leader in health care and this was one way to show our commitment,” she said.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans is the first business in Colorado to earn a platinum award and one of only three Colorado companies to get any Wellness Councils of America award in 2012. The city of Boulder earned a Gold Well Workplace Award in 2012 and Front Range Internet Inc. won a Small Business Well Workplace Award.


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