This month, the innovative Dartmouth Wellness Initiative, a new health program for employees, begins offering employees resources to support healthy living, including assistance from a team of health coaches. The initiative’s first activity will be its “You! Harvesting Health!” event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 17 in Alumni Hall.
“This initiative is a great step in our efforts to provide the best offerings for Dartmouth employees to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Myron McCoo, the vice president of the Office of Human Resources.
The initiative strives to help Dartmouth employees stay healthy or become more healthy, providing free health screenings and assessments and access to three health coaches. Employees will have the opportunity to work directly with health coaches to develop personalized health and wellness goals. The new coaches have expertise in wellness, nutrition, and exercise; they will help employees outline health goals, formulate a plan for achieving them, and provide support and accountability.
The health coaches will be active on campus and will work exclusively with Dartmouth employees, says Melissa Miner, Dartmouth’s director of Health Promotion and Wellness.
“The Dartmouth Wellness Initiative’s coaches are engaged members of the community who will take a personalized approach to wellness,” says Miner.
Health coaches have been an integral part of Dartmouth Health Connect, a primary care practice for employees and their adult dependents, launched in March 2012. The health coaches working with the Dartmouth Wellness Initiative are separate from Dartmouth Health Connect and will be available to all benefits-eligible Dartmouth employees regardless of where employees receive their health care.
Annual financial incentives of up to $200 will also be available as part of the Dartmouth Wellness Initiative. Employees who participate in the health screenings will receive $50. Those who meet with a health coach at least twice will receive $50 and there will be a $100 incentive available for taking an online health assessment on the Cigna website (available in January). These financial incentives are available to all benefits-eligible active employees, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the Dartmouth health plan.
The “You! Harvesting Health!” event on October 17 will offer screenings to help identify health risks by measuring blood pressure, glucose level, total cholesterol, body mass index, and waist circumference. Health coaches will be at the event to talk about how they can support employees’ healthy lifestyles. Event participants will also be able to meet with vendors and on-campus partners including: Cigna, CVS Caremark, Dartmouth Health Connect, Delta Dental, the Faculty/Employee Assistance Program, Zimmerman Fitness Center and Alumni Gym, the Tucker Foundation, the Dartmouth Child Care Center, and others. Flu vaccines will also be offered by the Dick’s House staff. All Dartmouth employees can participate in the event free of charge. For employees who cannot attend the event on October 17, additional health screening dates and times will be available on the newly launched Dartmouth Wellness website.
The Wellness Initiative is a collaboration across campus that includes staff and faculty from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and the Department of Computer Science—which is developing mobile health technology for the health coaches to use. “Our lab is excited to be working with the Wellness Initiative to develop mobile technology to support convenient, free health screenings across campus,” says David Kotz, Champion International Professor of Computer Science and the associate dean for the sciences.
The program was set in motion last fall when Miner and her team began researching the health needs of Dartmouth employees and laying the groundwork for the initiative.
“This is only a starting point,” says Miner. “This initiative is a great place to begin getting Dartmouth on the healthiest path possible.”