NCH Healthcare System First Employer To Achieve Certified Blue Zones Worksite Status In Florida

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 General News
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Innovative Preventative Health Leader Sees Jump in Employee Well-Being

NAPLES, Fla., May 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- NCH Healthcare System today became the first Certified Blue Zones®

Worksite in Florida and the first healthcare system in the nation to earn certification from the nationwide community well-being initiative. Since implementing Blue Zones Project®, NCH has seen a 2.8-point improvement in its Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being 5™ employee survey from 2015 to 2016. The survey measures the five interrelated elements shown to have the greatest impact on an individual's well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

"At NCH, we are very proud to be the first Certified Blue Zones Worksite in Florida," said Allen S. Weiss, M.D., MBA, FACP, FACR, president and CEO, NCH Healthcare System. "Well-being is our mission and our promise, for those we serve and for our employees. That's why we're making substantive changes on our campuses – improving the foods we serve in our cafeterias, eliminating sugar-based beverages, and working with local producers to have onsite farmers markets. Each of these actions reinforces the idea that healthy doesn't have to be hard. We are creating success for patients, employees, and the community at large."

NCH has seen a 40 percent drop in the number of work days lost due to injuries from 2015 to 2016. During that same time period, 25 percent of NCH well-being program participants saw a positive change in nutrition score and 34 percent saw their BMI shift positively.

Part of that success is due to work being done in NCH cafeterias, which are quickly becoming some of the healthiest places to eat in Southwest Florida. Healthy foods are marked with blue stickers while unhealthy impulse buys have been removed from checkout stands. In 2016, NCH also removed all sugar-sweetened beverages from its cafeterias and vending machines, a forward-thinking improvement not seen in many other health systems. This change is resulting in an estimated 500 pounds of sugar not consumed each month.

Taking on the Blue Zones Project challenge was a natural next step for NCH, whose system-wide well-being efforts date back to 2009. In that time, NCH has seen a decrease of 54 percent in healthcare expenditures, resulting in a $27 million savings in the past three years alone. One of the changes included tobacco policy updates in 2009 that designated NCH a smoke-free campus and a new policy in 2011 to no longer hire smokers. NCH continues to see a drop in its employee smoking rate, falling from 2.8 percent in 2015 to 1.3 percent in 2016. The smoking rate in Florida for the same time frame was 18 percent.

"NCH has expanded on its record of bold and innovative preventative efforts with this accomplishment," said Michael Acker, general manager, Blue Zones Project. "In just one year, NCH saw well-being rise in each of the five elements measured by the Well-Being 5 survey and saw a nearly three-point overall increase in well-being. The results are clear that this investment is paying off."

More than half of the hospital's employees, a total of 2,150 people, took the Blue Zones Personal Pledge to improve their well-being. More than 4,000 volunteer hours were logged by employees in one year following a push for employees to give back, and more than 1,000 employees joined a Walking or Potluck Moai group, building strong social connections and bonds among employees. Moai is a concept from Okinawa, Japan – one of the original Blue Zones areas – that roughly means coming together for a common purpose. The groups are made up of five to eight people who meet once a week to walk or enjoy a healthy meal together and socialize.

To become a certified worksite, NCH implemented a customized pledge designed to enhance employee health and well-being, implemented evidence-based practices, and demonstrated measureable improvement in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being 5 survey during a more than year-long implementation.

Blue Zones Project is a community-wide well-being improvement initiative designed to help people live longer, healthier lives. NCH demonstrates its commitment to community-wide well-being through its continued sponsorship of Blue Zones Project for the entire community in Southwest Florida. The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area has ranked first in the country for well-being for the past two years in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, a scientific survey instrument that tracks and reports on the well-being of individuals and organizations.

About NCH Healthcare SystemThe NCH Healthcare System is a not-for-profit, multi-facility healthcare system located in Naples, Florida, United States.  The System is more than just two hospitals (referred to as the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital, and NCH North Naples Hospital) with a total of 716 beds.  The NCH Healthcare System is an alliance of 775 physicians and medical facilities in dozens of locations throughout Collier County and southwest Florida. The services offered by the NCH Healthcare System are extensive.  Inpatient services include:  medical, surgical, cardiac, orthopedic, obstetric, pediatric, rehabilitative, psychiatric, oncology, emergency treatment, and diagnostics.  Outpatient services include:  rehabilitation, home care, urgent care, wound healing, and more.  This year the System had 39,000 admissions, 111,000 emergency room visits, 3,600 births, 405 open heart surgeries, 11,800 surgical procedures, and 4,300 employee colleagues. NCH is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. NCH's mission is to help everyone live a longer, happier, healthier life.  NCH is sponsoring the Blue Zones Project for Southwest Florida. For more information, visit

About Blue Zones ProjectBlue Zones Project® is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city's environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world—or Blue Zones®—with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner's findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 42 communities in nine states have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.3 million Americans nationwide. The movement includes three beach cities in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is a division of Sharecare. For more information, visit

About SharecareSharecare is the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place. The Sharecare platform provides each person – no matter where they are in their health journey – with a comprehensive and personalized health profile, where they can dynamically and easily connect to the information, evidence-based programs and health professionals they need to live their healthiest, happiest and most productive life. With award-winning and innovative frictionless technologies, scientifically validated clinical protocols and best-in-class coaching tools, Sharecare helps providers, employers and health plans effectively scale outcomes-based health and wellness solutions across their entire populations. To learn more, visit

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SOURCE Blue Zones Project


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