California’s fiscal fitness depends on adopting healthy habits. On Monday, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a popular television host of "The Dr. Oz Show" led the charge for a two year pilot workplace-wellness program designed to promote healthy habits at work.
“Health happens in the Workplace” was launched with Yvonne R. Walker, President of SEIU, State Controller John Chiang, and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer pushing forward to improve state worker’s health to save money on long term cost.
A study by the state controller’s office found that in 2008, California could save between $18 million to $54 million a year if only five to fifteen percent of government workers are able to prevent chronic disease through changes in diet and increased physical activity. The state can save three dollars for every dollar spent.
The workplace-wellness program follows the imprint of HealthCorps, a Sacramento based nonprofit founded by Dr. Oz and his wife to end childhood obesity. It is expected to gain traction in workplace environments throughout California.
HealthCorps started in 2003, and has spread to 53 high schools across the country. The vision is to take steps similar to this youth empowered program and apply like wise solutions to workplace needs. The workplace-wellness program is an effort by Kaiser Permanente, The California Endowment, and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which is the largest state workers union .
A national study on the rising cost of healthcare graphically shows how income is outpaced by healthcare cost inflation. National income can’t seem to keep up with rising healthcare cost with more than 41 percent of adults in America having trouble in finding the care they need.
The pilot program comes at a time when getting lean is a necessity. During the rally, Eunice Pannell, a state worker at Department of Public Health nearly fainted from heat exhaustion during the lunchtime lecture. Dr. Oz, a heart surgeon tended to her care. She was treated then released by paramedics on scene.
The Department of Public Health is the first state agency to implement the program focusing on health education, employee screenings, and peer support in social environments.