Healthy and Happy

The CHRISTUS Spohn Health Network’s Workplace Wellness Program helps create a more health-conscious workforce with its new nurse navigator initiative.

By: Steven Alford

One of the best investments a company can make is in the health of its employees. It’s been shown that a healthy workforce is also a happier and more productive one. Managing the health and wellness of each associate at a company is a fulltime job, which is why the CHRISTUS Spohn Health Network has launched the new nurse navigator initiative as part of their Workplace Wellness Program.

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A nurse navigator is a registered nurse who works one-on-one with each employee to manage chronic diseases, improve diet and fitness and navigate the health care system. This unique program is the first of its kind in the region. Their passion is helping businesses monitor and manage the health of their workforce.

“People are very busy and often put their health last,” says Susanne Wood, workplace wellness coordinator at CHRISTUS Spohn. “By bringing health and wellness to the workplace, it gives people the chance to do the things that they put off. The importance of health at work also affirms that a business values its employees.”

Among the many services a nurse navigator provides are health education, monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar levels, organizing disease management programs, weight management counseling and smoking cessation, just to name a few. The nurse also helps employees navigate the health care system, from connecting them with primary care physicians to referring them to specialists.

Johanna Mettlach, MSN, R.N., is a CHRISTUS Spohn Health Network nurse navigator who works with employees at Turner Industries. She explains how this program is beneficial not only to employees, but for employers, too: “A lot of money is spent every year on health issues. There is direct and indirect loss to businesses due to illness and disease. We are trying to avoid that loss by preventing and/or managing diseases like diabetes. We are working for the employees and the employers at the same time.”

The work of the nurse navigator doesn’t end at 5 p.m. or stop outside the walls of the business. Mettlach recently organized an after-work shopping trip at a local grocery store with many associates from Turner Industries to help them make better food selections and plan healthier meals. She has already seen an impact of the program on many lives.

“I recently worked with an associate who is in his 50s, who was found to have high blood pressures and elevated blood sugars, yet had not been to a doctor since he was a teenager,” she said. Mettlach immediately was able to refer him to a primary care physician within the CHRISTUS Network and arrange an appointment for him to be seen right away.

Edward Vargas, director of business development for CHRISTUS Spohn Health Network, is thrilled by the success of the program. “This program is aimed to help create a more health-conscious workforce. We want to help every person navigate the health care system so they can get the care they need. This investment also comes back tenfold to the business by reducing their medical expenses of health plans and reducing paid sick time.”

Interested in a nurse navigator for your business? Call the CHRISTUS Spohn Health Network at 361-881-3945.

Photos courtesy of Christus Spohn

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