UAB hailed as fit-friendly, innovative, healthy employer

Innovative and cutting-edge are words often used to describe departments at UAB. Add UAB’s Employee Wellness Program to the growing list.

veggie_stand_13The American Heart Association (AHA) recently recognized the Wellness Program with its gold-level Fit Friendly Company and Worksite Innovation awards for 2011. And the Birmingham Business Journal ranked UAB second in its list of Healthiest Employers in the 500-plus-employee category for its emphasis on health and wellness in the workplace.

UAB has been recognized by the AHA for several years in a row, but this is the first time it has received the innovation award, an achievement attributable to the Farm Stand initiative that provides employees an opportunity to purchase fresh foods five days a week.

“We’re excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association,” says Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., UAB Wellness Program coordinator. The Fit Friendly Company Award recognizes UAB for offering employees physical activity support, increasing healthy eating options at work, promoting a wellness culture and implementing at least six physical activities, two nutrition activities and one culture activity.

“To receive this award again shows the commitment UAB has made to its employees and their well-being,” Whitt says. “And to be selected for the Worksite Innovation Award shows where we want to go. UAB strives to be innovative in every service line and academic program we offer, and I don’t want the Wellness Program to be any different. We want to be innovative, cutting-edge and build a program that will invest in the health and well-being of our employees.”

Whitt says the development and implementation of the strategic wellness plan was a major factor in UAB’s selection for the Birmingham Business Journal award.

“We’re glad it is capturing attention,” Whitt says. “It’s an ambitious plan, and I hope it shows we value our employees. They excel for so many of our patients, students and the community, and it’s great to build a program that invests in their health.”

More opportunities will be available to employees in 2012, and popular programs will continue. That includes The Farm Stand, which will continue to operate at its regular campus locations through Dec. 16 and will return again in the spring. Online ordering and delivery will be available to some locations during the winter months; learn more at www.uab.edu/wellness.

The tobacco-cessation program will return in January. Scale Back Alabama weigh-ins begin the week of Jan. 23, 2012, and EatRight’s weight-management classes will resume around the same time.

Whitt also says more effort will be made to highlight programs available to UAB employees.

“Our strategic mission statement is to cultivate, innovate and collaborate with partners across campus,” Whitt says. “One priority is to be able to direct employees to campus resources available to them and their families and build a bridge between the resources we have and employees who need help.

“It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to collaborate with experts and knowledgeable physicians to find solutions to our everyday health issues,” she says.

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