Innovative Wellness Project Launched in Four Maine School Districts

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 General News J E 4
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, Nov. 12 School teachers and staffin four Maine districts will have an opportunity to participate in a two-yearpilot project designed to lower their health risks and improve their overallhealth. The joint project of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and itsfoundation, the Maine Education Association Benefits Trust and schooldistricts based in Gardiner, Hampden, Readfield and Topsham will build on theexperience gained by several Maine businesses to improve employee health.

"This school wellness pilot project will be a valuable demonstration of anapproach to improve health and lower health risk factors that makes theconnection between lifestyle choices and overall health," said Dan Corcoran,president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The Anthem Blue Cross and BlueShield Foundation is providing major funding, along with the MEA BenefitsTrust, to launch this pilot project.

"By having health coaches work one-on-one with school teachers and staff,we hope to demonstrate effective ways to reduce risk factors that contributeto poor health later in life and give our school staff the knowledge andskills to live healthy lives," said Christine Burke, executive director, MEABenefits Trust.

The project will contract with Occupational Medical Consulting of Leeds,ME, a leading health and wellness company that provides services to Mainebusinesses.

The two year project is open to teachers and other district staff who haveelected to take the health insurance benefit offered by their school district.After assessing the individual districts' cultural readiness to supportwellness, OMC will measure each individual's health risk burden usingbiometric testing and health risk appraisals. Individuals will then determinewhich risks they feel are most in need of change. OMC's health coaches thenwork with participants to develop and maintain motivation for change.

"This personalized approach to health coaching has been effective inhelping employees to reduce their risk factors and improve their health, andhas substantially reduced healthcare spending in our longstanding clients,"said OMC's founder and medical director, Dr. Larry Catlett.

The project is scheduled to start this month and is the firstcomprehensive wellness program of its kind in Maine schools.

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine


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