ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 21, 2007) -- Health and wellness took center stage at the Administrative Senate meeting held on Feb. 15. Kim Valentour, director of WellWorks, attended the meeting as a guest speaker. She introduced a program WellWorks is developing called the Health Risk Appraisal.
The HRA is a questionnaire designed to determine the health and lifestyle habits of Ohio University employees. The assessment asks general health questions, as well as more specific questions regarding such things as nutrition, physical activity, stress and safety. Individual results are provided to staff members in the form of a report, the Personal Wellness Profile, which is distributed to participants after completion of the assessment. WellWorks will use the results of the survey to help them develop programs and services that best meet the needs of campus staff.
The confidential assessment is completely voluntary. Employee identification numbers, or another form of numerical ID, will be used to identify the assessments.
Valentour hopes that employees who take the assessment will commit to a three-step process. The first step is attending a health screening on campus. This is designed to help participants with some of the questions on the assessment; for instance, many people do not know their glucose or cholesterol levels. The screening process would give participants those numbers. The second step is to fill out the survey, either online or using the paper format. Lastly, Valentour will encourage participants to attend a session during which participants may pick up their Personal Wellness Profile and get broad explanations of some of their results.
Valentour would like to repeat the assessment in 12 to 24 months to determine the extent that participants modified their lifestyles as a result of the initial assessment results.
Senators suggested an incentive plan to encourage staff members to participate in the HRA. They also voiced concerns regarding data security, privacy and the amount of time staff members will be asked to commit. Valentour assured senators that the information would remain strictly confidential. However, she pointed out that if a participant's blood pressure was dangerously high, she would be obligated to suggest he or she seek medical attention.
Following Valentour's presentation, senators discussed the cost of health benefits for employees. Chair Wendy Merb-Brown and former chair Jean Witkowski, who both serve as representatives of Administrative Senate on the campus-wide Health Benefits Committee, led a discussion to determine the views of senators on many of the issues that have been brought up during the budget planning process.
In an effort to reduce the current budget deficit, the Budget Planning Council has asked the Health Benefits Committee to review the current health benefits in relation to employee cost-sharing. Realizing there is only a possibility that changes will need to be made, the Administrative Senate voiced favor for a cost-sharing plan that might raise premiums for all employees. However, a combination of higher co-pays and deductibles along with slightly higher premiums struck the senate as the most agreeable approach. Senators will also seek input from their constituents to give Merb-Brown and Witkowski a more accurate idea of administrators' views.
The next Administrative Senate meeting will be held March 15 at noon in the Walter Hall governance room.
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