Best Health/Fitness Program

Aurora Health Care encourages employees to shed weight with yearlong campaign

The health system holds employees up to a higher standard of health, and employees rise to meet the challenge. 

Live Well Aurora - Logo -

Aurora Health Care, a 30,000-employee health system in Wisconsin and Illinois, has a simple mission: “We Help People Live Well.”

“But as we looked around and were honest with ourselves, we saw we needed to ‘walk the walk,’ as they say,” according to the entry. “Too many caregivers were not role models for wellness, carrying around excess pounds, smoking and engaging in other unwise activities.”

We award Aurora Health Care the prize for Best Health/Fitness Program in Ragan’s 2013 Employee Communications Awards because by thinking about its own employees first, it was able to help set a better example for patients. This wellness program changed the culture of the hospital, helped lower health care costs, and decreased the BMI for employees. 

Here are a few features of the program: 

Wellness credit: Caregivers learned they could earn “wellness credit” toward their health insurance premiums. Caregivers with an unhealthy BMI were offered meal-replacement programs, Weight Watchers, and phone counseling. 

Healthy Wage: This vendor-driven program encouraged caregivers to form teams and lose weight. The top team would win $10,000. 

Partial reimbursement for gym membership: Caregivers simply needed to meet a monthly attendance requirement for reimbursement. 

The numbers speak for themselves: 
• Half of caregivers who chose to lose 5 percent of their body weight succeeded, with a loss of 22,755 pounds.
• Caregivers who participated in the meal-replacement program lost an average of 24.1 pounds.
• Weight Watchers participants lost more than 7,200 pounds.
• More than 1,000 caregivers signed up for the gym reimbursement.
• Teams participating in the Healthy Wage $10,000 challenge lost 9,700 pounds.

Congratulations to Don Klein, Mary Arens, Amy Kesler, Kelly Sutton, Dr. David Smith, Dr. Bruce Van Cleave, Mike Liebert, and Barb Stollenwerk.


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