TRC’s STARS employee wellness program honored

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By Mark Stevens

The STARS employee health program has racked up another award.

The Resource Center recently was recognized for its ongoing dedication and outstanding commitment to actively pursuing worksite wellness through its STARS initiative. TRC received a “Worksite Champions” award from the Chautauqua County Health Network at CCHN’s annual event at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville on March 1.

“It was a big surprise to us,” said Donna Trusso, STARS Project Manager. “It was exciting to win because it’s local, a local award. We’ve been recognized in Western New York and nationally, and we appreciate that. But to get something locally, kind of means more.”

“TRC is following best practice guidelines to form a wellness team that is representative of the employees throughout the entire corporation,” said Ann Abdella, CCHN Executive Director, in explaining why The Resource Center was selected for the Worksite Champions award.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by CCHN for our work with TRC’s employee wellness program,” said Heather C. Brown, Assistant Executive Director.”We are so pleased to be able to make a difference in so many people’s lives, and we’ll continue to grow this program to support all of the amazing staff we have here at The Resource Center.”

Holding TRC's Worksite Champions award are, from left, Heather C. Brown, Assistant Executive Director; Donna Trusso, STARS Project Manager; and Heather Courtney, Health Coach.

Holding TRC’s Worksite Champions award are, from left, Heather C. Brown, Assistant Executive Director; Donna Trusso, STARS Project Manager; and Heather Courtney, Health Coach.

This marks the STARS program’s third major honor in the past year. In 2016, the effectiveness of the STARS wellness program resulted in The Resource Center being named one of Western New York’s healthiest employers by Business First magazine. That designation qualified TRC for consideration in a nation-wide program to identify the healthiest employers in the country, and when all was said and done, The Resource Center was deemed the 77th healthiest workplace in America.

The CCHN event was titled “Doing Our Part to Save Hearts” and was part of the network’s CHQ 250 initiative. Leaders say the goal of CHQ 250 is to rally all sectors of the community to understand the high death toll that heart disease has in Chautauqua County. CCHN and its partners look to save 250 lives from heart attack or stroke between 2015 and 2018. This local activity is connected with the national Million Hearts initiative, which seeks to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes across the country over five years.

To accomplish the CHQ 250 goal, TRC’s STARS program recently signed a pledge to do its part to save lives. As part of its commitment, TRC is participating in the “billion steps” challenge. The campaign, sponsored by the American Public Health Association, runs until April 9. More than 50 TRC employees have signed up and had contributed to more than one million steps as of March 13. Each week the TRC team reports its steps to CCHN; those steps will be combined with those of employees at other local organizations that are participating in the challenge.

“That’s a ton of steps. It’s healthy for the heart to have physical activity,” said Heather Courtney, STARS Health Coach. “The message is, `Get moving, play a part in your community.’ When we come together, a lot of people can accomplish a lot.”

In addition to getting people to walk, TRC’s wellness program has accomplished quite a bit over the last several months. The recent biometric screenings, which are a prerequisite to enroll in the program, were conducted last fall, and the results showed improvement in a number of key areas. The overall body mass index of participating TRC employees is down by half a point, and the average number of days per week that employees exercise is on the rise. The results also showed no new cases of hypertension; a decrease in the number of people on cholesterol medication; and an increase in the number of people trying to go tobacco free.

“It says we’re doing something right, and we’re engaging employees and trying to make a positive impact on some lifestyle changes,” said Donna. “We’re finally at a point where we are seeing some progress, and we’re really excited about that.”

And while the wellness team isn’t in it for the accolades, like its most recent CCHN award, it does find it very rewarding to be recognized for its efforts.

“This is reflective of the hard work from the staff in the STARS program,” said Donna.

“TRC’s approach will engage employees and build support for improved nutrition and physical activity policy recommendations in the future,” said Ann. “This is a model for other large employers to emulate.”

In addition to TRC, UPMC Chautauqua at WCA was also presented with a Worksite Champion award at the CCHN event.

Also as part of the event, TRC employees Laura Seiberg, Nurse Manager at TRC Community Health Center in Jamestown, and Amy Rickerson, Population Health Manager, led a discussion and demonstration about how to achieve an accurate blood pressure reading. The pair emphasized if the proper techniques are not followed, people may register an artificially high blood pressure reading.  Those techniques include:

  • Don’t eat, drink or smoke for 30 minutes before having your blood pressure checked.
  • Use the restroom five minutes before your blood pressure reading.
  • Wear a short-sleeve shirt.
  • Have your blood pressure checked with your arm on a table, desk or chair that is at the same level as your heart.
  • During the blood pressure check, sit quietly in a chair that has a back, with both feet flat on the floor.
  • Don’t talk while the blood pressure check is being performed.

Amy said patients and health care providers should be aware of these tips to achieve an accurate blood pressure reading.

“It is important for the patient and provider to know so going forward, the patient can follow the proper seating and tips to give the patient’s accurate reading,” Amy said. She added that if following these tips results in a lower blood pressure reading, a patient may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for medications to control high blood pressure.

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