Businesses achieve Blue Zones worksite status
Several Fairfield businesses, including the Jefferson County Health Center and the Fairfield Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store, have been designated Blue Zones Worksites.
According to Fairfield Blue Zones leaders, being designated a Blue Zones Worksite is a large undertaking. Blue Zones principles reach into all areas of life, and thus all aspects of a worksite from physical work environments that support healthy behaviors, to employee education, to giving coaching help for finding a sense of purpose.
“Our mission is to make lives easier, healthier and happier,” said Dee Sandquist, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and team leader of Blue Zones Worksite implementation at the Fairfield Hy-Vee. “We already had many of the Blue Zones Worksite criteria in place. Our Healthy Lifestyles program includes biometrics and preventative screenings and services.We’ve been doing this for employees for over five years.”
Hy-Vee’s personalized health services are available for employees and customers alike. The company’s website details services ranging from health screenings to customized shopping tours, to working with a shopper’s physician to develop a nutrition plan tailored to his or her healthcare needs.
“We have an onsite dietitian available for the public and employees, and pharmacists who can provide medication management,” Sandquist said.
Another program Hy-Vee offers is the Begin healthy lifestyle and weight loss program. The 10-week behavior-based program is designed to help people make healthy choices part of daily living. A teens’ and a kids’ version of Begin, emphasizes eating for good health, weight loss and being physically active.
Sandquist said Hy-Vee’s mission fits well with the Blue Zones philosophy of making healthy choices the easy choices. It’s about making incremental changes that will have a lasting impact. Fairfield’s Hy-Vee has bike racks, plants in the worksite environment and also maintains a smoke-free workplace.
Joneane Parker, vice president of clinical services and team leader of Blue Zones Worksite implementation at Jefferson County Health Center, said, “As a health facility, we felt the Blue Zones Project mission needs to be our mission as well. We need to start at home with our staff and because of what we are, we need to do better than just acceptable. We need to work hard to make sure we hit as many areas as possible.”
Jefferson County Health Center has done just that, with coaching and workshops on health, personal finance, finding purpose and making work more meaningful. Programs remind employees with desk jobs to get up and take a short break after working for a while. Vending machines feature healthy snack options, an accomplishment recognized with an award to the dietician who created the new snack menu. Nearly a mile of additional walking trails invite staff and visitors to recreate.
These are just a few accomplishments of JCHC in its pursuit of Blue Zones Worksite designation.
“We put some games out on the patio for breaks, so people aren’t just sitting around,” said Parker. “The games included Frisbee, ladder ball and things for stretching. People were really blown away that those games were there for them.”
“Some people were ho-hum going into our [Florence Nightingale] education programs on finding purpose and a range of other topics,” Parker said “Once they got into it, they really liked the strategies they were learning, as well as different ways to explore and find their purpose. People were pleased to recognize they have the authority to do the right things, to take positive ownership. We have a remarkable staff here and [the Blue Zones Project work] just builds on that.”
Cambridge Investment Research and Agri-Industrial Plastics Company also have earned Blue Zones Worksite designation.