When Joy Schiller, M.S., CHES, invites people in DMU’s exercise classes to do “three more sets of eight” or assures them, “You’ll thank me someday – just maybe not today,” she isn’t only doing her job as wellness director. She’s singing the lines that led to DMU going double-platinum.
“ We want to instill our belief in prevention and wellness in the next generation of health care providers, so that we help change health care from an illness model to a wellness model.”
– DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D.
In September, DMU was recognized with its second platinum-level Well Workplace Award, the highest distinction achievable from the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA). DMU earned its first award in 2009 and is still the nation’s only educational institution to receive the honor.
“DMU is amazing in its support of wellness,” Schiller says. “It’s critical for our students to understand wellness from a personal standpoint, so they can help their future patients.”
Well Workplace Awards, designated in bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels, recognize organizations that have fully embraced responsibility for maximizing the health and well being of their employees.
WELCOA, with more than 3,200 member organizations nationwide, uses seven benchmarks to evaluate the wellness of a workplace: strong CEO-level leadership and support; a cohesive wellness team; data collection to drive health efforts; an operating plan that defines what the wellness program expects to accomplish; appropriate health promotion interventions based on collected data; a supportive environment; and ongoing, consistent evaluation of outcomes.
“The value we place on our wellness programs at Des Moines University is reflected in the designation of ‘wellness’ as an institutional core value and one of the five guiding principles that define us as an organization,” says DMU President Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D. “This award shows we believe it, value it and live it.
“As a health sciences university, we have to lead by example as we train future health care providers and administrators,” President Franklin adds. “Having a healthy workforce of employees also allows us to manage and maintain insurance costs.”
DMU has an on-campus 25,000-square-foot wellness center with a variety of exercise equipment, intramural activities and a nutrition kitchen for demonstrating healthy cooking. Employees can participate in an incentive-based program that rewards them for participating in physical activity, community service, preventive health care and intellectual, social and spiritual wellness efforts. The University offers annual personal wellness assessments, one-on-one health coaching, personal training and fitness classes to students, employees and their families.
“Wellness is much more than physical health,” Schiller says. “It’s the full integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.”