Seeking to do more with their own health care dollars as a self-insured employer, Corvallis-based Samaritan Health Services created a comprehensive employee health and wellness plan that continues to show measurable results and was recently recognized as Oregon’s Healthiest Employer for the third time in the past four years. At an Aug. 19 awards luncheon in Portland hosted by the Portland Business Journal, Samaritan was recognized in the category of employers with at least 1,500 workers. In accepting the award, Samaritan President/CEO Larry Mullins said the success they have seen with their own employees helped lead the organization to expand its Samaritan Health Plans’ offerings to include employer group plans designed to help other employers achieve similar results.
“Our employee wellness strategies and health plan are designed to work together to achieve better health outcomes, increase our financial stability so we can re-invest those dollars into our employees and patient-related services, and lower the rate at which our health plan costs rise each year,” Mullins said. Samaritan’s program includes a multi-disciplinary Wellness Council to help guide program development, a focus on gathering and analyzing collective employee health data to help design effective follow-up strategies, and a supportive environment that includes personalized health coaching, a healthy foods initiative for in-house dining, Samaritan-operated fitness centers located near work sites and open 24/7, and a host of health-related classes, workshops and support groups.
Mullins said Samaritan takes a holistic view of wellness, encompassing the body, mind, environment, spirit, community, emotions, finances and work.“Struggles in one aspect of wellness can affect other aspects, so our programs include non-traditional offerings such as our ‘Healthy Steps’ class, which uses essay writing to encourage employees to explore and recognize their own state of emotional health,” Mullins said. “Class participants also create their own ‘bucket list’ as a way of acknowledging their sense of purpose – a key element of increased life expectancy.” More than 3,200 members are currently enrolled in Samaritan Health Plans’ employer group plans, which began being offered to Oregon employers in 2015.
“We are finding that employers are very interested in these plans because they reflect innovative ways of managing health care costs while supporting employee health and well-being,” Mullins said. “We believe we can use our own successful experience to help other employers achieve similar goals.” Samaritan includes five hospitals in the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast, including Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport.