NAPA -- Having opened its 59,000-square-foot Wellness Center back in 2006, long before wellness became seamlessly interwoven in the corporate business lexicon, it's perhaps not surprising that Queen of the Valley in Napa extended the concept to its workforce.

What is perhaps surprising is the amount of employees buying into the concept -- some 73 percent of more than 1,500 employees, or more than 1,000,  are taking part in the medical center's wellness program, according to the hospital, which is Napa County's largest private sector employer.

"We have seen positive engagement and high levels of participation," Walt Mickens, chief executive officer of Queen of the Valley, said.

It's also one of two health systems overseen by St. Joseph Health System to be named a healthiest company in the North Bay, with its Sonoma County counterpart earning the distinction as well.

"It is our mission to continually improve the health and quality of life of people in the communities we serve," Mr. Mickens said. "Our employees, who give their time and talents caring for and healing others, are part of this community.

"Workforce wellness is one way we support  our staff," he added. "With a healthy, engaged and productive workforce, we are a stronger organization and better able to fulfill our mission."

In addition to promoting exercise, the Queen also became a tobacco-free campus, and its cafe started having "Meatless Mondays" in effort to curb consumption of  high-cholesterol red meat, and it offers incentives to quit smoking.

The Queen of the Valley offers employees use of a pedometer to track physical activity. Employees who do so benefit from a number of metrics used: qualify of life, well being, decreased diseased risk, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, as well as participation satisfaction and avoidable medical care utilization, according to the Queen.