By Kerry Watson, Director of CommunicationsMKC employees will be adding a little color to their uniform on Friday as they
join others across the nation and wear red to help bring more awareness to heart disease. National Wear Red Day, held the first Friday of February each year, helps bring awareness to heart disease and its impact not only on women, but men as well.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women. In 2003, the American Heart Association and the National Hear, Lung and Blood Institute took action against the disease, reported to be claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year. It was from that action, National Wear Red Day was born.
Creating awareness for health issues and encouraging employees to live a healthy lifestyle began two years ago when MKC participated in a pilot program offered by their health insurance provider, Agri-Business Benefit Group, Inc. (ABBGI). According to Jeff Frizell, Human Resource Manager for MKC, the pilot program was deemed successful and ABBGI voted this year to mandate the 80 Kansas cooperatives that are part of its medical and dental program to provide a wellness program to their employees.
"Encouraging employees to participate in our wellness events is two-fold," said Frizell. "Participating employees are living a healthier lifestyle and they can earn a monthly discount on their health insurance premium."
Frizell spoke of the different wellness initiatives offered by MKC:
Flu Shot Clinic - MKC organizes a flu shot clinic for its employees and their family members. Employees are provided the shot at no cost.
Step It Up - Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise a person can do and MKC's "Step It Up" program encouraged employees to get up and move around more. Wearing a pedometer to record the number of steps taken in a 24-hour period, employees set a personal goal at achieve on a daily basis.
Triathlon - A number of employees put their athletic skills to test and participated in the McPherson County United Way Triathlon. Event distances included a 200-meter swim, 7-mile bike ride and 2-mile run. The triathlon was another exercise program for participants as some trained for weeks in advance of the event while others added something new to their exercise program prior to the competition.
Cruising for Losing - Thirty-six employees participated in "Cruising for Losing", a two-month weight loss challenge that resulted in a total weight lost of 256 pounds.
Wellness Presentation - Greg Lindholm, a physician's assistant from McPherson County, provided a program for living a healthy lifestyle.
Blood Pressure and Blood Screening Clinic - A clinic was provided at no cost to employees to check their blood pressure and to conduct a blood screen, providing the employee with information about his cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels.
"Because our employees are a valuable asset to the company, we take their health very seriously," said Frizell. "We do as much as we can to create awareness related to potential health issues as well as promote a healthy lifestyle."