Boulder’s wellness program improving health

About 1,000 employees involved in the city of Boulder’s wellness program have had lower blood pressure and positive overall health scores over the last several months.

About 75 percent of Boulder’s 1,258 full-time employees participate in the program, said Jennifer Wray, a city spokeswoman. About 10 percent of participating employees received a “good” or “excellent” health score when they had basic health tests done that included blood tests, blood pressure tests, and height and weight measurements, she said.

In general, the city’s wellness program includes things like “walking meetings,” in which colleagues are encouraged to conduct business while on walks during work time, and incentives to eat healthy foods.
“Even though walking and health programs have been around for a few years, maybe we’re getting better participation,” Wray said. “We have seen a reduction in high blood pressure and an increase in improved nutrition, but we don’t have an answer as to why.”

For its emphasis on employee wellness, the city of Boulder has received the highest recognition available from the American Heart Association as a 2014 Fit-Friendly Worksite. The city increased healthy-eating options at work and offered physical-activity support, among other metrics used to achieve the recognition, according to the American Heart Association.

Nationally, strong employee-wellness programs are shown to make employees happier and healthier, which makes them tend to come to work more often, said Patrick von Keyserling, the city’s communications director. The city has not collected any specific insurance data yet that would indicate a specific return on investment for the healthier work population, he said.

Wound therapy
Did you know that Boulder Community Hospital has a wound-healing center?
Wounds that won’t heal are a more common issue than you might think. Patients with diabetic ulcers, infections, even road rash, often have issues with wounds that end up requiring a doctor’s intervention.
Doctors and nurses at the wound-healing center can help. The center is located across the street from Boulder Community Hospital’s Broadway campus at 1136 Alpine Ave., Suite 225.

If you have a wound that hasn’t started healing after two weeks, check out the services at the wound-healing center, which include:

• debridement – a minor procedure that removes dead tissue from around the wound, which can prevent infection and help healthy tissue grow.
• MIST therapy – a painless ultrasound treatment that stimulates cell growth.
• negative pressure wound therapy – a treatment that promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the wound area.
• synthetic tissue grafts – a treatment that supports tissue regeneration by helping to restore blood flow to the wound area.
• compression therapy – a treatment that decreases swelling and promotes the growth of healthy tissue.

Health exchange update
Uninsured Coloradans continue to sign up for health insurance through the state’s Connect for Health Colorado online insurance exchange.

Colorado is one of 17 states running its own online insurance exchange, which is a “carrot” to encourage uninsured people to buy health insurance. People who do not have health insurance will face a “stick” – a penalty on their tax returns. The online exchanges were created as part of the implementation of the national Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010.

Boulder County is No. 4 of the 63 counties in the state in terms of Connect for Health sign-ups so far, with 6,797 sign-ups. Denver County has had 9,391 people sign up for health insurance on the Connect for Health service; Arapahoe County had 7,630 people sign up, and Jefferson County had 7,361 people sign up.

So far, 68,331 Coloradans have signed up for health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. Before the new law went into effect, officials estimated that about 150,000 Colorado residents did not have health insurance.


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