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News Samaritan Again Earns Healthiest Employer Award

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Seeking to do more with their own health care dollars as a self-insured employer, Corvallis-based Samaritan Health Services created a comprehensive employee health and wellness plan that continues to show measurable results and was recently recognized as Oregon’s Healthiest Employer for the fourth time in the past five years.

At an Aug. 17 awards luncheon in Portland hosted by the Portland Business Journal, Samaritan was recognized in the category of employers with at least 1,500 workers.  
Larry Mullins, Samaritan’s President/CEO, said the success Samaritan has experienced with its own employees helped lead the organization to expand its Samarian Health Plans’ offerings to include employer group plans designed to help other employers achieve similar results.

“Our employee wellness strategies and health plan are designed to work together to achieve better health outcomes, increase our financial stability so we can re-invest those dollars into our employees and patient-related services, and lower the rate at which our health plan costs rise each year,” Mullins said.

The success of these efforts can be seen in the results of employees’ annual health screenings, which are conducted by an outside testing company.  The 2016 results showed that:

  • 88 percent of at-risk employees improved their glucose levels;
  • 47 percent of at-risk employees improved their Body Mass Index (BMI);
  • 45 percent of at-risk employees improved their cholesterol levels; and
  • 29 percent of at-risk employees improved their blood pressure.

Samaritan’s program includes a multi-disciplinary Wellness Council to help guide program development, a focus on gathering and analyzing collective employee health data to help design effective follow-up strategies, and a supportive environment that includes personalized health coaching, a healthy foods initiative for in-house dining, Samaritan-operated fitness centers located near work sites and open 24/7, and a host of health-related classes, workshops and support groups.

Alyssa Wink, Samaritan’s director of wellness and fitness, said the organization takes a holistic view of wellness, encompassing the body, mind, environment, spirit, community, emotions, finances and work.

“Struggles in one aspect of wellness can affect other aspects, so our programs include non-traditional offerings,” Wink said. “For example, our Well-Being Days and Healthy Steps programs include ‘Purpose Walks’ that are led by our Wellness-Life Coach and incorporate the concept of practicing, exploring and learning through movement to activate your body and your mind.”

Nearly 5,000 members are currently enrolled in Samaritan Health Plans’ employer group plans, which have been offered in Oregon since 2015.  

“We are finding that employers are very interested in these plans because they reflect innovative ways of managing health care costs while supporting employee health and well-being,” Mullins said. “We believe we can use our own successful experience to help other employers achieve similar goals.”