15:45 PM

Cook Children’s Climbs 20 Spots in Top 100 Healthy Workplaces

healthiest employees

Get help to stop smoking.  Find tools to manage your diabetes or hypertension. Visit with a therapist for mental health concerns. Take a yoga class or use cardio equipment at the Wellness Zone.

Employees of Cook Children’s Health Care System benefit from a broad variety of programs and incentives for physical and mental well-being – from illness prevention and injury care to insurance plans and free counseling. That spectrum of quality offerings earned Cook Children’s the No. 74 ranking on the latest list of Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America.

The Healthiest Employers awards program releases the list annually, scoring companies on criteria including leadership commitment, strategic planning and foundational components in their approach to employee wellness. Cook Children’s ranked No. 94 last year. 

Beth Schmidt, VP of Human Resources and Occupational Health, said the national recognition reflects the committed, intentional and holistic approach that Cook Children’s takes to keep staff members healthy and safe. 

“I’m proud to see our ranking improved because it truly shines a light on the emphasis that has been placed on our employees’ well-being,” Beth said. “I believe we are creating an environment where our employees can get the help they need whether it’s a routine illness, a chronic condition or for mental help.”

To safeguard the health of employees, Cook Children’s takes steps to provide:

  • Occupational Health for work-related injuries, tuberculosis tests, flu vaccines and industrial hygiene
  • Convenient access to CareATC for non-work injuries, illnesses, chronic conditions, physicals and diagnostic testing
  • Availability of insurance plans with pharmacy, vision and dental coverage
  • Counseling sessions through the Employee Assistance Program 
  • HealthyMe options including the popular Vitality points earned for screenings (mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopy etc.), going to the dentist, completing online weight-loss videos, and more.

Sarah Fry, coordinator of the Cook Children’s Wellness Program, sees the most participation in three areas: discounted enrollment for Weight Watchers; the Vitality points redeemable for gift cards; and the Livongo smart devices that track blood sugar, weight and blood pressure.  Additional wellness perks include a monthly newsletter, webinars, tobacco cessation and pregnancy/childbirth education. 

She said camaraderie drives many of the initiatives. For instance, employees who don’t exercise on their own might join in doing 30 squats in a department huddle as part of the October fitness challenge Squatober.

“Co-workers get together and push each other to do better,” Sarah said. “The competitive aspect is there, and it hits on the social aspect to the seven dimensions of wellness.”  Coming in November … the Planksgiving abdominal challenge.

About 60-100 employees use the Wellness Zone at the Cook Children’s Medical Center each day at no cost. The gym provides workout equipment along with Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes. Other options for exercise include a walking group and a cycling crew that meets weekly.

“We’re all doing this together. We’re improving our health and we’re having fun with it,” she said. “The whole goal is to build a healthier population of employees so that we can take care of the patients.”

Sarah wants to make sure everyone on staff – new hires and veterans alike -- knows about these workplace benefits, which are tailored for people with different needs.

“It’s a testament to Cook Children’s as an organization providing this opportunity for employees who are interested in growing their personal health and wellness.”