Wellness programs draw more interest

New federal incentives, heightened awareness get businesses’ attention

[caption id="attachment_29741" align="alignright" width="294" caption="Above left: Victoria Cendejas (right) gets a gentle finger prick from Lab Services representative Patty Kinworthy, to check her glucose level or blood sugar. "][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – Growing numbers of employers of all sizes in the North Bay are embracing wellness programs for their employees. A recent survey of commercial insurance carriers by the Business Journal revealed a common theme of business clients seeking information or actively developing wellness programs both to manage employee health care costs and prepare for the impact of health care reform.

Employer wellness efforts were already well under way in the North Bay long before Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. Employers generally recognize that supporting their employees’ health makes all-around good business sense. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wellness Council of America estimate that every $1 invested in wellness programs saves businesses $3 to $7 in costs.

[caption id="attachment_29742" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Claudia Ritchie received a blood pressure check from Jeanne Powell, RN, a nurse educator for St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County."][/caption]

Larger North Bay employers such as Amy’s Kitchen, Becoming Independent, JDS Uniphase, and La Tortilla Factory, implemented worksite wellness initiatives in recent years in partnership with the Healthy Eating, Active Living Community Health (HEAL) Initiative, a program of Sonoma County Health Services.

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