Wellness program helps employees get physically and financially fit

- Kristie Barnes is joining some of her coworkers at Florida Medical Clinic for a yoga class at the office during lunch break. They are building their bodies and their team through the company's wellness program.

"It has helped me be a better leader with my teams, it has helped me be positive, calm and collected, motivational,” she said.

The program was the brainchild of clinic doctor Allison Hull.  She approached her boss about it two years ago.

"This is an opportunity for people to get well and be well,” she explained.  "I said to the CEO of the company, ‘I want to create a patient-centered wellness program.’"

But he wanted to start with the employees.

"Because, as any employer, one of the things we're trying to do is manage our health care costs," said Florida Medical Clinic CEO Joe Delatorre.

To help the employees become successful, Dr. Hull made sure they didn't have to go far to stay healthy. 

"We have a designated nutritionist for the employees. We have on-site fitness classes that are at lots of our locations. We also have cognitive therapy,” she continued.

An onsite cafe provides employees with healthy options.

"We prepare foods daily for this cafe so the wonderful people here at Florida Medical can support their staff by serving them food that they wouldn't generally find in an office setting," said Linda Baldwin of Intelligent Gourmet.

In two years, there's been more than a few success stories.

"I've lost 23 pounds and I've been able to keep most of it off," said employee Wendy Pinkston.

"I've lost 40 pounds, my biometric screenings are improved, changed my lifestyle, I eat healthy, I feel better," said Delatorre.

It's led to some financial fitness too. 

"If you are engaged in the program, you pay very little for your health care, maybe $5 a pay period, $10 a pay period," Delatorre said.

The program partners with the clinic's foundation to raise money for community projects through weekend fitness events. 

"We've raised over $40,000 in the last two years just by doing this for the community,” said Dr. Hull.

"It helps encourage everyone and make everyone feel like they can participate and contribute to a good cause,” said Pinkston.

And it's led to other big benefits at work. 

"I think it's super important with retaining staff, making sure your employees feel that your employers care about them," Delatorre added.

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