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Published on January 20, 2016

UHS recognized for helping its employees achieve fitness

For the third year in a row, the American Heart Association has recognized UHS as a "Gold Seal Fit Friendly Worksite" for the opportunities it gives its employees to achieve physical fitness and wellness.

The award has been presented to UHS as an employer that goes above and beyond the ordinary when it comes to its workers' health, said Gina Chapman, director of the Southern Tier American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

"This recognition means that your organization is continuing to do everything right when it comes to your employees' heart health," she said in a letter to UHS. "The association encourages companies to adopt the Fit Friendly model to lower the risk of heart disease among their employees. Studies verify that wellness programs increase worker productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower turnover rates and cut healthcare costs."

Matthew J. Salanger, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of UHS, said: "Helping our employees, as well as our patients, achieve their goals for optimum health is a major priority at UHS. As a top regional provider of cardiac care services, UHS was an early adopter of worksite wellness, embracing the concept for our own staff and their family members, and helping other local firms develop programs for their employees."

Celeste Pazzaglini-Mack, RN, coordinator of UHS' Stay Healthy at Work, said: "We are honored and delighted that the AHA has recognized UHS for our extensive worksite wellness program. Our team is always seeking new ways to encourage our employees to make healthy choices."

UHS is one of 31 Southern Tier companies - representing 30,500 employees - to earn the Fit Friendly designation, and one of only 14 to be honored with the Gold Seal. The American Heart Association has recognized over 2,000 worksites nationwide, representing nearly 5.3 million employees.

In the eight-state Founders Affiliate region, which includes New York State, 265 worksites were honored as Fit Friendly. To achieve Gold Seal status, UHS documented that it has a written policy banning the use of tobacco on its campuses and meets other employee health standards.

These include organizing and promoting walking and physical activity programs; maintaining walking trails in and around its facilities; encouraging staff to use stairs rather than elevators; incorporating heart healthy choices into the food offered in its cafeterias; and providing pertinent heart-health information to workers.

UHS also offers various on-site physical activity classes during the year and works with local fitness facilities to obtain discounts for its employees. It maintains a Team UHS page on its Intranet specifically designed to get staff involved in community walks and runs in which UHS plays a supportive role.

The AHA recognition also acknowledges participation in healthy nutrition endeavors. UHS' internal website offers a Stay Healthy at Work page that provides dietary advice to employees seeking to maintain healthy weight.