By Murray L. Harber
On May 24th, the Mississippi Business Group on Health and the Mississippi State Department of Health will hold another Healthy Workplace Healthy Communities Conference in downtown Jackson, Mississippi at the Marriot Hotel and Conference Center. This meeting will bring together employers, public health, and other community health advocates to learn more about the health connections between workplaces and the communities that their employees and their families live and work.
This year’s event will have presentations on a variety of employer and community efforts which are changing the culture in their communities to being healthier. There are some great examples of employers in Mississippi who have shown excellence in promoting and supporting health in the workplace. Several of these have been finalist and received the Healthiest Workplace Awards. These employers will be sharing their success stories at this year’s conference. Some of the innovations by these employers include offering onsite health clinics, support for community health events, and engagement strategies for the employee’s families.
Cities and counties are also getting on the wagon by offering improved health benefits, wellness programs, and connecting employees with community resources. Attendees at the conference will hear the reasons why municipalities are promoting both employee and community health to reduce the costs to their organizations and taxpayers alike.
The City of Vicksburg, under the leadership of its Mayor, George Flaggs, has a mayors health council and has recently worked with the Alderman and the leadership team of the city to provide an employee health initiative. The city has partnered with Vigilant Health to provide a population health approach to managing their health plan cost including a near-site clinic and a new wellness program.
“The City of Vicksburg is an example of a municipality that is not only focusing on community health but on the health of its employees. We at Vigilant Health are excited to help improve the health of the city workers while connecting them with the physician community and community efforts to help create a culture of health in Vicksburg.” Dr. Marshall Bouldin, Medical Director, Vigilant Health
COMMUNITY & CONSUMERISM
In Charleston, the local hospital worked with community partners to fund the creation of a wellness center which is making a huge impact on the members of Tallahatchie County. What started as a doctoral student’s project has become a national story of how vision and partnerships can create healthy spaces in communities to improve the culture of health. Dr. Catherine Woodward will share her story from concept to launch to future activities with this project.
Several speakers will be presenting ideas for improving health and healthcare literacy which is a growing concern in Mississippi. Many Mississippians do not understand healthcare terminology and devalue the importance of prevention and daily lifestyle choices. Information and ideas will be shared to give attendees information and resources to promote good health and healthcare consumerism. Other speakers will address the needs of promoting local and healthy food choices in the workplace and in the community. These include gardening, community supported agriculture, farmers markets along with healthy vending, catering, and smart choices when eating out.
For several years now, many community stakeholders have been working on the Mississippi State Health Improvement Plan, which has been named Uproot Mississippi. One objective is to create a culture of health in Mississippi by advancing the workplace wellness and school health efforts in the state. The key messages for workplaces are that comprehensive programs can improve the health and productivity of employees which reduces cost for both the employer and employee. Healthy workplaces offer places, policies, and programs that support healthy behavior at work and in the community.
A new initiative of the MSBGH and the MSDH is the Recognized Healthy Employer program where employees can complete a best practice survey to see if they qualify by meeting a minimum standard. For those companies that qualify, they can apply for the 3rd Annual Healthiest Workplace Awards which is a collaboration of the MSBGH, MSDH, and the Mississippi Business Journal.
Employers who are healthy invest in the communities where their employees live, work, and play. They provide funding for community activities and events and provide employee support to volunteerism in the community. They also promote and support other healthy businesses in the community.
“In public health, employers are a key stakeholder in helping to create and support healthy communities and a culture of health. The MSDH and MSBGH continue to encourage and provide leadership in helping both public and private employers to follow best practices and evidence-based solutions in workplace wellness.” Dr. Victor Sutton, Director, Office of Preventive Health, Mississippi State Department of Health
To learn more and register for the Healthy Workplace Healthy Communities Conference, please visit www.msbgh.org/events. Employers are vital to Mississippi and its many communities and serve as drivers for both economic development and public health.
8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Jackson Marriott located at 200 E Amite St, Jackson, MS 39201
To Register, www.msbgh.org/events
For more information, contact: Murray L. Harber, Executive Director, MSBGH, firstname.lastname@example.org