Swain employees compete, get well together

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Swain County employees recently completed the first year of an employee wellness program. Combined, 46 of 57 finished the program. 

Participants gained points for measures in weight loss, cholesterol, blood pressure and a heart score. The heart score is used to assess heart health based on diet, exercise, blood pressure control and other lifestyle factors.

The year-long program followed a six-month pilot program. The county has partnered with Swain County Community Hospital for the program. 

“Disease of the heart is the number one morbidity in Swain County, what better way to combat this chronic disease then helping with our own employees?” explains Trish Hipgrave, Swain County Community Health Coordinator. “The employee wellness program was created to directly help and improve the health of county employees who are directly in contact with the community.” 

A potluck dinner with lots of healthy food choices was held at the Senior Center June 18, where teams and participants were recognized for their success. 

Winning teams: 1st Sheriff’s Department, 2nd Health Department, 3rd Administration

Winning Participants: 1st Samantha Blanchard, 2nd April Goodwin, 3rd Dawn Zalva

The Veggie Award: Dawn Zalva

Veggie runner up: Kim Greene

Among all the participants, 18 improved cholesterol, 14 improved glucose, 18 improved their weight with a total of 162.9 pounds lost. Fifteen improved body fat percentage, 20 improved their heart score and 24 improved their waist measurement with 25 improving hip measurement. 

The program receives support from MountainWise, a Public Health Partnership of the Health Departments in the eight westernmost counties in WNC. 

“The specific funding that supports Swain County Wellness is a grant from the US Centers for Disease Control that focuses on chronic disease prevention,” explains Nan Kramer, regional community health coordinator. “My role is that of the Regional Community Health Coordinator, and through this grant, I am able to promote healthy eating and physical activity through worksite wellness programs, faith-based wellness programs and healthy food retail.”

Through the partnerships with Swain Community Hospital and Mountain Wise, Swain County Health Department has been able to help obtain resources including lectures, healthy lunch and learns, tools for physical activity, a tracking system, tools for stress reduction, educational films and tools for healthy meals at work.  

“We are able to see the direct impact of this program with our pre- and post-screenings, which include percent body fat, waist and hip circumference, blood cholesterol and glucose levels,” Hipgrave said. “We are currently starting our second year in this program. Each year, our employees continue to show improvement, not only in their health data but in their overall productivity at work. By having this program and tools available to our employees, we are better able to serve our community.”

Smoky Mountain Times

Mailing Address:
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Bryson City, NC 28713 
Phone: 828-488-2189
Fax: 828-488-0315