August 2010

I recently picked my youngest son up from camp.  While at camp he acquired a bad case of poison ivy.  I took him right to the doctor.    Sometimes it is obvious if medical care is required.  Unfortunately, it is not always easy to know if you should stay at home and let something take its course, or if you should seek medical attention.  There is a resource employers can make available to their employees to assist them in making that decision – a Self Care Book.

Back to my son, the next day he complained of pain in his leg (the same leg that had the worst of the poison ivy). I went to my handy medical self care book and started reading.  I discovered the pain was where a lymph node is located, and I concluded there was a chance he might have developed an infection.  I also discovered what symptoms to look for to determine if further medical attention was warranted. From the book I knew I had to keep a close watch on him.  An hour later when he vomited and had a fever I wasted no time in getting him to the emergency room.  I was told it was good I brought him in when I did.  They were able to give him antibiotics and send him on his way.  I was told if I had waited he would have ended up in the hospital.  In this case the self care book guided me to the hospital.  In some cases it may lead you to avoiding the time and expense of such a trip.

Medical self care books and programs are inexpensive to provide, but the savings they produce can be substantial and can be realized in a short period of time.  Many studies have documented the ROI of a printed self care book on reduced doctor and emergency room visits.[i] These benefits occur because medical self-care programs teach employees and their dependents to become wiser health care consumers.  They learn to make better decisions about when to go to the doctor or emergency room, and when they can stay at home and treat themselves using self-care procedures.

[i] Medical Self Care Savings, American Institute for Preventative Medicine, Farmington Hills, MI

As we head over the summer “hump” toward August, thoughts turn to that glorious time of the year when everyone heads back to school and the house quiets.  But for many parents, August also means helping their children prepare for annual visits to their family pediatricians, for immunizations.  August is National Immunization Awareness month and although no one “likes a shot,” immunizations remain one of the best ways to protect children and adults from many serious illnesses.  Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that once routinely killed or harmed tens of thousands of infants, children and adults. Childhood immunizations are based on a series of vaccinations over a period of time and recommendations from individual pediatricians are best to follow.  But the importance of vaccines should not be left at the school house door, as adults should follow a standard published schedule for updating their own protection.

            Immunization is the most effective way of reducing employee absenteeism and improving overall health in the workplace.  Benefits of a workplace flu immunization program reduces interruption with service or product delivery, reduces employee sick leave and extended health costs, boosts employee morale by showing your workforce you care and making it a day to celebrate wellness in the workplace, and increases productivity and job satisfaction.

            So please, remember the CDC reminds us that some adults incorrectly assume that the vaccines they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives.[1]  Generally this is true, but to be certain check the CDC website to learn more about your risks and what vaccines are recommended.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A

With passage of Health Care Reform, came significant support for mothers and babies which benefits their employers as well.  Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.  The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose.  The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.  If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs less than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements.  Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.[1]

According to the CDC, mothers and babies benefit from breastfeeding in a number of ways, potentially lowering rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers in women, while allowing breast milk to protect infants from bacterial and viral infections.[2] These health benefits to mother and baby conveyed by breastfeeding translate into reduced costs to employers due to lower health care costs, decreased absenteeism, enhanced productivity, improved employee satisfaction, and a better corporate image.[3]

Please call Advancing Wellness for more information on setting up a lactation room for your employees, it’s good for everyone!

[1] Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Parklawn Building Room 18-05, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA

[3] Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Parklawn Building Room 18-05, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857