"It's great to see hospitals leading the way to improve the health of Louisianans, not just for their patients but also for their employees who should serve as role models for their patients," DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said in a media release. "Hospitals are large employers, and I am happy they are taking the opportunity to set an example of how to help people take charge of their own health."
There are legitimate concerns about the wellness movement and its potential to infringe on the privacy of the people it is purportedly designed to benefit, particularly if more emphasis is placed on punishing unhealthy workers. However, those concerns should not cancel out efforts to promote personal responsibility for one's health. Safeguards can be built into any wellness program to ensure that they are not discriminatory toward age, sex, race, or income.
The fact is that the United States can no longer afford to ignore bulging waistlines. The cost is simply too dear. With that in mind, hospitals are the perfect places to build a culture of wellness. They are in every sizeable town in every state, and workers at these hospitals—from environmental staff to CEOs —represent a broad socioeconomic spectrum.
Successful wellness programs will not only improve the lives of hospital employees and the people they serve, but will also help the push to eliminate billions of dollars of preventable costs in hospitalizations associated with tobacco use and complications from overweight.
It's a win-win-win for hospitals, their employees, and the rest of us, too.