Health Programs Recognized Statewide – Rebekah Williams,
representing Drive by Fruiting; County Clerk Shelly Russell,
representing Love County employees’ Health + Wellness Team; and Danny
Dvorak, representing the local wellness program of Mercy Health
System, celebrate their programs’ awards at the Love County Senior
Three health programs underway in Love County are being recognized statewide.
Love County Employees Healthier and Richer! -- Thirty-one employees are sharing in a $10,000 first prize for winning a statewide wellness contest sponsored by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO) Insurance Programs.
The ACCO Health/Wellness Incentive Awards Game took place February-May 2014. Winners were announced in a statewide event in July. Love County’s Health & Wellness Team came out on top of 26 other participating county workforces. Participation was voluntary.
The contest is expected to repeat in 2015, and motivation continues. “We’re still working out and eating healthier,” said County Clerk Shelly Russell.
Participants followed a contest curriculum, completing numerous fitness and nutrition activities week-by-week. They formed a wellness council to guide them.
By the end of the four months, participants were exercising together 25 minutes, three times a week while at work and 25 minutes, three times a week at home. They had reduced unhealthy snacks and sodas, replacing them with water and specified healthy alternatives. Most reported weight loss, an extra benefit, but not in itself a contest criterion.
ACCO created the competition to reduce self-insurance costs and lower injury rates among county employees statewide.
Sizable personal and team incentives went along with results. Here are the accumulated benefits in Love County, according to Russell:
- $322.58 per employee participant in the 31-way split of the $10,000 first prize;
- $200 per employee participant from Health Choice, the state health care plan;
- Up to $125 per participant in gift cards from the Love County Board of Commissioners as performance awards during the competition;
- Reduction to the county of $31 in monthly premiums for employee health insurance in 2015.
Russell said the contest had an influence on regular visitors to the Courthouse. “Land men stopped bringing us donuts and started bringing veggie trays instead.”
Drive by Fruiting Wins Champion of Health Finalist -- “Drive by Fruiting,” a popular volunteer program serving homebound seniors, has been recognized statewide with the Champion of Senior Health Finalist award. Champions of Health will be recognized in a gala dinner September 30 at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in OKC.
Drive by Fruiting delivers an apple, orange, banana, tomato, and baking potato to homebound seniors once a month or more often.
The idea originated in 2011 with area Senior Nutrition outreach coordinator, Rebekah Williams, and was launched spectacularly the following spring by senior volunteers in Love County and Marshall County, under the direction of Eyvonna Lemons.
Williams proposed the idea during a Love County Community Coalition meeting. Since then, numerous local individuals, agencies, and churches have added volunteers to the initiative.
According to Lemons, 170 homebound seniors in Love County are benefiting from Drive by Fruiting. Volunteers purchase, bag, and deliver the fruit once a month. Mercy Health/Love County’s food pantry for the hungry and food insecure of Love County supplements the fruit with a senior food package contributed by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
By 2014, Drive by Fruiting had been adopted in all 77 Oklahoma counties thanks to promotional advocacy by the OSU Extension Services and the Home and Community Education Program.
Williams and her agency, the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program, have been singled out for recognition as 2014 Champion of Senior Health Finalist. “I want to thank all the volunteers in Love County who helped make this possible,” Williams said.
Champions of Health honors people and programs who are making a difference in the health of Oklahomans. The awards are sponsored by the Governors’ Office and leading public and private health agencies in Oklahoma.
Williams said the idea of Drive by Fruiting was impressed upon her during a period when state funding for nutrition centers was ebbing. “Seven centers had closed, but I believed that volunteers would be willing to spend less than $5 to help feed a senior nutritious food items that they may not be able to afford. Walmart gave me a $1,000 grant to get started. It’s incredibly important what has taken place in Love County and I use the partnership of volunteers and the hospital food pantry as a model for what other communities can do. I believe Drive by Fruiting will become a national project.”
Healthification Wins Honor for Mercy Health System -- Healthification, a wellness initiative introduced by Mercy Health System in 2010, has been named a 2014 Oklahoma Champion of Corporate Health Finalist. The initiative will be represented at the Champions of Health gala dinner on September 30 in Oklahoma City.
Healthification promotes healthy living through four pillars: eat for life, move for life, breathe for life, and balance for life.
The program is in place at Mercy Health/Love County and other hospitals in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri.
Danny Dvorak, R.N., has led the program in Marietta from the beginning. Among other outcomes, the local hospital banned tobacco use on the premises, and has begun serving healthier choices in employee meals and in vending machines.
“Every coworker can receive an annual health risk assessment cost free,” Dvorak added. “We bring information to coworkers about ways to participate in 30 minutes a day of movement, and we provide smoking cessation aids, including prescription medicines.
Balance for life means blending physical, mental and spiritual balance, with emphasis on stress relief and relaxation.