Dublin Villager

Dublin first city in nation to receive 'healthy' designation

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Instructor Sally Gill helps Sandra Puskarcik, Dublin's director of communications, with her form during an employee fitness class held in the Dublin Recreational Center Thursday, Jan. 9.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Dublin isn't satisfied with being the greenest; it's now taking aim at being the healthiest.

The city last week became the first in the nation to snag accreditation from US Healthiest, a nonprofit organization working to make the country healthier.

The bronze-level accreditation from HealthLead, a two-step process for employers, looks into employee health management and well-being, a news release from the city said.

To begin the accreditation process, Dublin completed an online assessment that looked at "the entire work health program and well-being management aspects and based upon reaching a minimum score they qualified for an onsite audit," said Jennifer Childress, HealthLead consultant.

During the site visit, Childress said, the team looked at the Healthy By Choice program Dublin has for employees.

The city stood out because it broke through bureaucracy to work with employees and develop a program that works, Childress said.

"The Healthy By Choice goals are based on City Council's strategic focus," she said. "The same focus they have in the city is also the same in the Healthy By Choice program ... ."

The program established four years ago focuses on keeping employees healthy and preventative care, said Tim Wagner, Dublin human resources director.

"We do a couple of things," Wagner said.

"First, because we have a high-deductible health program, there's high encouragement that we'll help subsidize the high deductible if you do certain wellness activities like biometric assessments and health screenings ... ."

If certain biometric standards are met, the city helps employees with their deductible costs.

"We make sure we do as much preventative things here at the city as we can," Wagner said.

"We have flu shots. We bring in folks to do blood pressure. We bring nurses in to talk about preventative care.

"There are educational programs," he said. "We require employees to come to two classes a year."

In addition to education about healthy eating, cooking, weight loss and other subjects, employees also have the option to get physical.

Employees can take a fitness class and stretching is done each morning with city staff that have physical jobs.

"We've done the stretching activity for over a year now," Wagner said. "We've only had one or two muscular or skeletal injuries in the past year. It's gone down."

The city didn't, however, seek accreditation solely for the recognition.

"We have a couple of people that because of the Healthy By Choice program for city employees and Healthy Dublin (for the community), ... that look at wellness issues," Wagner said.

"They're always looking at those programs and standards because it helps us know what to do and what the gold standard is out there ... . Wellness is hard to measure."

As for measuring success, Dublin officials said they do believe it's saved about $2.6 million over three years through fewer sick days and disability claims, generic medicine for employees and preventative care.

"We were hoping we would get the accreditation, but if we didn't it would help us with a roadmap on how to get there," Wagner said.

Dublin is the first city in the nation to receive the accreditation, but other local groups that have been awarded the recognition include Intel, OhioHealth, Ohio State University and Worthington Industries.

"It shows caring about the employees, not just dollars and cents," Wagner said of the accreditation.

"We're in good company," he said.

"One of the things city council and the city manager has been good about is being at the forefront and trying to do these things well."

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