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News Samaritan Earns Healthiest Employer Award for Fifth Time

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Seeking to do more with their own health care dollars as a self-insured employer, 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 fifth time in the past six years.

Samaritan’s high placement at the state level made it eligible for the national Healthiest Employer competition, where it was recognized among the top third of America’s 100 Healthiest Workplaces. That award will be presented on Sept. 20 as part of a national conference in Chicago.

At an Aug. 16 awards luncheon in Portland hosted by the Portland Business Journal for the state award, Samaritan was recognized in a newly-created category of Oregon’s largest employers with at least 5,000 workers.  

“Our employee wellness strategies and health plan are designed to work together to achieve better health outcomes, boost employee job satisfaction and engagement,  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,” Boysen said.

In 2017, the success of these efforts was seen in increased employee involvement with wellness activities and in positive health behaviors including:

  • Nearly 10 percent increase in employee involvement in wellness activities, with 70 percent now engaged with Samaritan’s program offerings;
  • 4 percent increase in those undergoing annual preventive exams;
  • 1 percent increase in those completing breast screening;
  • 1 percent increase in those completing colorectal cancer screenings.

In addition, efforts to foster a safe work environment resulted in Samaritan achieving a highly favorable Workers’ Compensation experience modifier from SAIF Corporation.  The rating, .68 percent, is the second lowest in Samaritan’s history and is significantly less that the average weighted rating of .88 for organizations of similar size and class.

Samaritan’s wellness program features a multi-disciplinary Wellness Council that helps 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, on-site produce stands, 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 SHS Wellness Challenges include ‘Purpose Walks’ that are led by our Wellness Coaching team and incorporate the concept of practicing, exploring and learning through movement to activate your body and your mind.”

Doug Boysen, 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 and a new worksite wellness program called SamCare At Work that is designed to help other employers achieve similar results.

More than 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,” Boysen said. “We believe we can use our own successful experience to help other employers achieve similar goals.”