In 1983, the Texas Legislature passed the Health, Fitness and Education Act, which supports programs that aim to improve the health and wellness of state employees. The Act encouraged state agencies to create wellness councils and appoint coordinators to increase employee interest and involvement in worksite wellness.
Wellness program coordinators play a key role in helping their colleagues make healthy lifestyle choices, said Lacy Wolff, ERS’ health promotion administrator. Wellness program coordinators “can have a major impact an organization’s health, productivity and morale,” she stated.
Jennica Preston and Christine Brown, wellness coordinators at the Railroad Commission of Texas, attend the first monthly wellness coordinator’s meeting.
“I enjoy helping people,” said Preston. “As a wellness coordinator, I can help my colleagues improve the quality of their lives by sharing with them the resources and tools they can use to become more healthy and fit.”
The Act also called for wellness liaisons at state agencies to coordinate their efforts, and Wolff wants to do her part to help.
After joining ERS in June, Wolff immediately set to work on planning monthly Idea Exchange meetings for wellness program coordinators to share ideas that are working with employees at their agencies and institutions. Through these meetings, “ERS is working to connect the resources available through the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) to all of its members,” Wolff said.
Allison Kerin: Texas should lead the way in investing in preventive health care
In her six years as the director of employee wellness and recognition at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), Allison Kerin has worked hard to help employees adapt healthy lifestyles. “I want our employees to live their lives to the fullest,” Kerin said. “I want them to have a great quality of life.”
In August, Kerin made the long trek from Lubbock to Austin to attend the first of ERS’ Idea Exchange workshops. She applauds ERS for holding such forums. “I think this is a great step in the right direction—to send a message that Texas takes wellness seriously and that we are ready to do something about it.”
Kerin hopes that ERS will assist her and other wellness coordinators in collecting much-needed metrics and data. “We HAVE to show the return on investment in supporting wellness initiatives,” to show that these programs really do help Texans change behaviors that lead to chronic diseases.
If she and her wellness colleagues can make such a case, “we can impact the amount of money spent on healthcare in Texas and, overall, as a nation,” Kerin said. “I would love to see Texas lead the way in making investments in preventive health care programs.”