NDI promotes wellness

Published 10:54 pm Monday, October 31, 2005

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Natural Decorations Inc. (NDI) has developed a new concept to keep its employees healthy. Partnering with the Alabama Department of Public Health, Carol Gordy has developed a private industry &#8220wellness program contract.”
According to a brief overview of the contract, NDI will cover the cost of a nurse from the department of health to come to NDI and speak to employees on various subjects concerning health, as well as perform health screenings throughout the year. As an incentive, each employee will be competing against each other in various health-related activities to win the ultimate prize footed by NDI.
On Friday, members of the Coalition for Healthier Escambia County and ADPH staff discussed the vision of the wellness program.
As a part of NDI's wellness program, Gordy formulated several competitions for employees. Employees chose their own teams of four. Throughout the year, the teams - whose names include Gutbusters, Team Flab-U-Less and The Shrinkables, among others - have been competing against each other to win the ultimate prize.
Winners of the competition, along with their spouses, will win a cruise overseas. The cruise will leave from the Port of Mobile.
Gordy is hoping that other businesses in the area will incorporate the same type of thinking - which is developing an overall sense of wellness within the workplace.
One of the &#8220drastic” changes within NDI is the new smoking policy. Under the new policy, NDI employees who smoke will no longer be able to smoke on the premise and those who do smoke must clock out each time they take a &#8220break” and must travel to smoke elsewhere. Smokeless tobacco is also not allowed.
Yet, there's another kicker to the deal – Gordy said that NDI will no longer hire people who smoke.
Gordy said that the new policy was rough on her employees who smoked. In fact, she said, some of the smokers were not thrilled.
However, little by little the number of smokers has actually decreased, and some find it not worth clocking out every time they want to smoke. Some employees, Gordy said, have even quit smoking altogether.
But smoking isn't just the only part of the wellness program.
During the first wellness screening, 73 employees participated in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar testing, while 26 employees participated in bone mineral density.
As a result, in the first four weeks of the program, 73 participants lost a total of 180 pounds, BMI results dropped drastically, as well as body fat percentage, which a percentage lost was at 46.3 percent.
Some of the competitions the teams participate in include drinking water, walking a certain number of steps, which is measured with a pedometer provided by NDI, and a dairy competition, where the goal is to have at least three servings a day.
During Friday's wellness meeting, Nancy Johnson, who is a nurse with the ADPH and has been working with the employees of NDI, put a &#8220fat vest” on a participant. The idea of the vest is to simulate what it would be like to carry around excess weight all day.
Johnson, who also works with the WIC program, noted that one out of three children in America has a good chance of acquiring diabetes without the proper nutritional education and practices. Gordy is also hoping that schools will re-implement physical education.
In the meantime, Gordy is hoping that with her wellness program being such a success, other businesses here will jump on the bandwagon and pull for a healthier Brewton.
As a part of the effort, Vicki Fussell with Hope Place announced Friday that smoking will not be allowed inside the building or on the premise. Signs, which have been ordered but have not arrived, will be securely placed to advise people to not light up.
Any local business that is interested in partaking in a wellness program should contact Ricky Elliott at the Escambia County Health Department at 867-5765 ext. 4.

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