Beaver Dam Community Hospital (BDCH) became a healthy lifestyle champion for the community by becoming a leader and sponsor for the Dodge County Blue Zones project.
Located in Beaver Dam, Wis., BDCH is both an employer-member of The Alliance and an in-network health care provider. In 2016, BDCH received a Health Transformation Award from The Alliance for their work in improving the quality of care using a systematic, process-oriented approach that can be adapted and implemented by other organizations.
Kim Miller, President and CEO at Beaver Dam Community Hospital spoke about BDCH’s journey toward wellness and the Dodge County Blue Zones project at The Alliance’s Population Health event.
In 2016, Dodge County joined the Blue Zones Project movement. They were looking for area organizations to partner with and inspire people to live longer, more active lives with lower rates of chronic disease.
BDCH joined Dodge County’s Blue Zones Project first through wellness initiatives with their employees and later through their interactions with the public.
“As health care providers, people look to us to be leaders,” Miller said. “Therefore, if we don’t step forward and lead by example, they’re not going to trust us.”
Some of the healthy initiatives BDCH implemented for employees included:
- Wellness incentives
- Discounts on healthy food in the café
- Walking/fitness breaks
- Employees given electronic fitness trackers
- Onsite fitness classes
- Advanced care planning
- Financial wellness seminars
Shifting Salt Shakers and Sneakers
BDCH also made a few changes to its hospital café such as:
- Using produce grown in their own organic gardens
- Removing deep fryers from the café
- Offering water and flavored waters in exchange for sugar-sweetened drink choices
- Moving salt and pepper shakers from individual tables to a shared condiment station
In 2017, BDCH became the first certified worksite in Wisconsin for the Blue Zones project. And the BDCH café became the second Blue Zones certified restaurant in Dodge County.
Miller explained how a change in the employee dress code that allowed all employees to wear sneakers caused her to walk more.
“I’d wear sneakers with my suits,” said Miller. “I know that it may not look the best, but it really doesn’t matter. I’ve found that if the sneakers were in the office, but not on my feet, I didn’t put them on as often. When they were on my feet, I walked more.”
What Can Employers Do?
When employers, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, city officials and other community-based organizations encourage healthy behaviors, the entire population benefits.
Ask your employees what they want and support their journey.
“It starts with something small, but you can make a very large impact when you get people involved,” said Miller.
For more information on the Dodge County Blue Zones Project, go to their website or social media pages.
Facebook: Blue Zones Project Dane County