Des Moines University’s wellness program is a source of pride (and a great way to sweat) for our students and employees. Launched nearly 30 years ago, the program in 2009 became the first and only college or university in the nation to earn the Platinum Well Workplace designation, the highest honor bestowed by the Wellness Councils of America. That designation was recertified in 2012.
Now the DMU wellness program has received external affirmation of its high quality and impact: On Jan. 22, Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) announced the 18 finalists for the inaugural HSI awards, which will be given to individuals, communities, schools and small and large workplaces for advancing efforts to improve the physical, social and emotional well-being of Iowans. DMU is one of four finalists for an HSI award in the large workplace category.
Other finalists in the category are Kemin Industries and Meredith Corporation of Des Moines and the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
“The Healthiest State Initiative is proud to recognize the work these finalists have been doing to improve the overall health and well-being of Iowans,” said Jami Haberl, HSI executive director and a graduate of DMU’s master of public health and master of health care administration programs. “They have set a great example for other individuals, communities, schools and workplaces to emulate.”
The winners will be announced at HSI’s inaugural award event on Feb. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines. Each winner will be granted a monetary gift to continue their work focused on improving the health and well-being of their employees, students or citizens.
“DMU is committed to the well-being of the mind, body and spirit of our students and employees and recognizes that wellness is a vital component of our organization,” says Joy Schiller, M.S., DMU’s wellness program director. “Providing opportunities for our students and employees to achieve personal wellness goals that result in quantifiable improvements to their overall health and well-being is of greatest importance.
“Wellness was formally identified and approved as one of the five core values at DMU in 2012,” Joy continues. “That demonstrates the pervasiveness of wellness at DMU and how fully it has been integrated into our organization’s culture.”
Our wellness program’s components and benefits include the following:
- Our Wellness Pays program, now in its 14th year, provides financial rewards to employees for their involvement in health-promoting activities. Last year, the University paid out more than $32,500 to 165 Wellness Pays participants. A new Wellness Pays kiosk in the wellness center and a simple-to-use mobile app make it even easier for program participants to track their data.
- Our 25,000-square-foot wellness center and its staff offer a wide variety of programs and services, from fitness classes and state-of-the-art exercise equipment to intramural sports, a full-size gym and chair massages on Fridays.
- In the center’s teaching kitchen, students can take a healthy cooking elective, and students and employees enjoy frequent lunch-and-learn sessions on nutrition, stress relief and other wellness topics.
- The wellness staff offer one-on-one consultations and training. Students and employees also can have an annual Personal Wellness Profile, which gives them a baseline of health indicators they can then track and compare year to year.
- Students and employees can designate a person as their “Plus One,” such as a family member or friend, who then has full and free access to the wellness center and its services.
“Des Moines University has been uniquely positioned to help our students establish a personal lifestyle that will allow them to succeed despite the rigors of medical school,” Joy says. “That also will equip them to become more effective role models and advocates for healthful lifestyles to their future patients.”