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Coffee Break Physicals

Food & NutritionMay 25, 10

“Who has time?” is a frequent question in response to the suggestion of a medical check-up. Job demands aren’t becoming easier to meet in this challenging economy. And there is always a “to-do” list waiting at home. Naturally employees feel these pressures.

Still, personal health has to be a top priority for individuals and businesses facing global competition and rising medical costs. Health risks that are not addressed early can become big medical problems hampering job productivity and increasing health-related spending.

“Wellness is valuable. In the opposite case, when an employee is too sick to come in or not able to perform at a high level because of illness, their enterprise sees less of their contributions. As a result the employee has less job security and probably less income,” said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, medical director Loyola University Health System Occupational Health Services.

“With the slow recovery from the recent recession, many employers have fewer staff available for assignments.

Shortages make optimizing productivity a key management necessity.” Capelli-Schellpfeffer notes workplace-wellness programs can reduce direct medical spending and absences. Furthermore, these programs can bring focus to costs that are hidden in the work flows of medically impaired staff.

These hidden costs are generated where an employee is “clocked in” and working unsuccessfully because of an under-treated or possibly unrecognized medical diagnosis. Called “presentism,” this human resource issue may actually be far larger than an employer realizes.

“Presentism is harder to quantify than absenteeism, but it is just as damaging to performance. If employees are not able to finish their duties, their teams are impacted in delivering products and services. The impact directly affects the employer’s revenue stream,” said Capelli-Schellpfeffer.

Many businesses are moving toward health promotion to protect productivity and help contain health-care costs.

In response, Loyola’s Occupational Health Services has started offering “coffee break” physicals that rely on basic screening tests and symptom surveys to identify employee health risks. Nurses and physicians visit with employees at their workplace. In 15 minutes, the duration of a morning coffee break, these clinicians provide individual assessments on diabetes, high blood pressure, and lack of sleep.

“Many patients are not sure where to start when it comes to improving their health. By bringing Loyola Occupational Health Services to their workplace, a company creates the opportunity for their employees to step forward along a personalized path,” said Capelli-Schellpfeffer.

Additional strategies to improve workplace wellness can add further health protection to an employer’s bottom line. An annual corporate “flu shot” program reduces the chance that employees will be sickened with seasonal influenza. “We know the flu comes back every year!

Compared with the dollars involved in replacing the lost output of one contagiously ill person who misses 7-10 days at the office, a preventive flu immunization program is a terrific bargain,” said Capelli-Schellpfeffer.

“Lunch and learn” workplace wellness sessions bring health professionals onsite to educate employees about health topics relevant to heart disease, diabetes and sleep disorders. Unfamiliar yet important details like the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke are discussed.

Nutritional tips to reduce blood sugar and weight-loss strategies are popular, too. With the information exchange, employees are empowered to take more control of their own medical circumstances.

“Workplace wellness does not require an extraordinary corporate investment. Still these wellness programs show people that management is committed to their well-being,” said Capelli-Schellpfeffer. “Workplace wellness is great for employees and their companies! Financial performance and customer service are hugely benefited when everyone is healthy and productive.”

Loyola Occupational Health Services provides onsite physical assessments, wellness workshops and immunization programs. For more information call toll-free (888) LUHS-888.

Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 25 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.

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