Friday, October 24, 2014

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Hoo’s Well Offers Cornucopia of Programs to Improve and Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Taking care of yourself will not only improve your health, but could also reduce your health insurance costs, not to mention earn you other rewards. University of Virginia employees have a flexible recipe to help them work on all of the above in Hoo’s Well, the U.Va. employee wellness program.

Program brochures explaining the menu of options – including new features – began arriving in employees’ home mailboxes this week. All Academic Division and Medical Center employees – plus their spouses – who are enrolled in the U.Va. Health Plan are eligible to participate.

President Teresa A. Sullivan endorses the program in an introductory letter in the brochure. “There are numerous benefits to participating in the program – increased energy and improved sleep habits, for example – that can help you be more engaged and more productive at home and at work,” she wrote. “I urge you to make physical activity, healthy eating and work-life balance priorities through this program.”

Hoo’s Well is offering a new reward to participants who take the first steps. Employees who undergo a biometric screening and complete the Aetna online health assessment by Oct. 31 will see $40 per month in health plan savings. This will replace the one-time cash payment previously offered.

Going into its third year, the wellness program has positively affected thousands of employees already, said Shana Pack, U.Va.’s wellness coordinator. Hoo’s Well offers and supports programs geared toward healthy eating and weight loss, exercise and fitness, work-life balance and disease management.

Joanne Chaplin, a laboratory technician in the College of Arts & Sciencesbiology department, changed her life through Weight Watchers, whose U.Va. participants receive a discount.

“Weight Watchers combines a great support system with a nutritionally sound way to fit regular foods into a healthy lifestyle,” Chaplin said. “It’s not always easy. But having lost more than 130 pounds, I’m living proof that if you do the work and follow the program, it WILL work for you. 

“Taking care of your health is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and for those you love,” she said.

Kenny Bower, maintenance programs coordinator in Facilities Management, found a support network in another program and spiced it with a pinch of competition.

“When I participated in the Hoo’s Fit Walking program, I enjoyed tracking my progress to see where I ranked among my co-workers,” he said. “It was so fun and motivating, I found myself taking the long way.”

Now is the time to get going by making an appointment for a biometric screening or getting lab results from one’s physician, and then completing the online health assessment.

“Screenings and assessments should be done annually,” Pack said. “Personally, you can track your numbers from year to year to measure progress, and in addition, participating annually will qualify you for rewards.” 

UVA-WorkMed will conduct biometric screenings at various locations on Grounds between Aug. 19 and Oct. 11. Appointments are required and can be scheduled here. This year, more than 8,000 screening appointment times will be available ­– twice as many as in past years, Pack said. Employees can also elect to receive a flu shot at their scheduled biometric screening appointment.

Employees may elect to use lab results from their annual physical exam instead of the biometric screening, as long as the lab work took place during the current calendar year. An employee and his or her doctor must fill out and sign a physician’s screening form, which is available in the Hoo’s Well brochure or online.

Another new option is using “My Chart,” the U.Va. Health System’s electronic medical record system. Employees whose doctors are part of the Health System can get access to My Chart to help manage and receive information about their health. In place of a biometric screening, the employee can attach lab results from My Chart to the completed physician’s screening form. No physician’s signature is needed.

The Aetna health assessment is available on the Aetna website. After logging in, an employee clicks on “Take the Health Assessment” and completes the comprehensive questionnaire that is part of “Simple Steps To A Healthier Life,” Aetna’s secure online guide to health and wellness. Questions cover topics such as health history, lifestyle, habits and health screenings.

Next, employees can choose activities that focus on one or more of the “six dimensions of wellness” described in the Hoo’s Well brochure: emotional, social, career, activity, nutrition and spiritual. Hoo’s Well and its partners, including Intramural-Recreational Sports, the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program and Aetna, as well as Weight Watchers and UVA-WorkMed, sponsor programs that address wellness in additional areas, such as pregnancy, tobacco cessation, colon cancer prevention, diabetes management and stress reduction.

Employees can get more information at the health fairs on Oct. 7 in Newcomb Hall or Oct. 8 in the Medical Center. In addition, they can look up frequently asked questions and answers posted online, call 434-243-1021 or email hooswell@virginia.edu.

 Note: Individual employee health information is private. All information obtained from or provided by you as a result of your participation in the Hoo’s Well program is kept private and secure, and is not shared with the University of Virginia as your employer.

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