New York City (May 26, 2011) — EmblemHealth has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association’s Start! initiative for helping employees eat better and move more.
EmblemHealth Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Gillespie accepts Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company award from Judy Campisi, Senior Director, Corporate Relations for the American Heart Association. EmblemHealth received the award for helping employees eat better and move more.
“We are delighted to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our ongoing commitment to physical fitness and employee wellness,” says William Gillespie, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for EmblemHealth, Inc., which provides health insurance to over 2.9 million people through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP). “We’ve long been aware of the dangers of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, and people who spend most of their days sitting in offices are especially at risk. As a leader in the business of health care, we are particularly committed to employee wellness. Offering our employees opportunities to eat better, receive on-going health education, and become more physically active is a key component of that commitment.
In order to be selected, Platinum-level employers must meet a rigorous set of guidelines: they must offer employees physical activity, increased healthy eating options and promote a wellness culture in the workplace; implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture; and demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.
The company promotes physical activity by encouraging employees to take stairs instead of elevators. Senior managers lead walks on a quarterly basis and mile-long walking routes are available at every location. Employees also receive free pedometers, access to on-line fitness tracking tools, low-cost gym discounts, and on-site lunchtime or after work exercise programs. EmblemHealth encourages healthy eating by providing discounts for
“heart healthy” lunches; offering free, unlimited consultations with an on-site registered dietitian and discounted diet programs; and partnering with Fresh Direct and other local vendors for healthy meals which are subsidized by EmblemHealth. Company vending machines have a selection of healthy offerings, and corporate policy requires that food at all meetings include fresh fruit, salad and water.
To promote a culture of wellness, EmblemHealth encourages healthy behaviors by providing on-site lactation rooms; scheduled lab services; free on-site flu vaccines, mammograms and skin cancer screenings; and sponsoring a variety of organized sports leagues and health-related walks, runs and bike tours. The company’s wellness program offers reward points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Employees earn points by taking a health risk assessment, getting screened, being tobacco-free, joining a gym, attending education lectures, participating in a disease management program and more.
Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program provides a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority. Participating companies get free access to program resources such as the free Start! Walking Program, materials to help promote company wellness programs to employees and internal newsletter templates.
“The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health - and their employers’ bottom line,” said William Borden, M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson.
“Even people who haven’t exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some adults may gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed.
EmblemHealth, Inc., through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP), provides quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 2.9 million people. Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO programs, as well as prescription drug, dental and vision plans. Plans offer a choice of networks, including access to over 103,000 quality doctors and other health care professionals and most of the leading hospitals across the tristate region. For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke - America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.