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Chautauqua County has been honored among Western New York’s Healthiest Employers in an annual competition conducted by Buffalo’s weekly business newspaper, Business First. Chautauqua County was the highest ranked employer in the competition’s X-Large category for employers with 1,000-1,499 employees and the only municipality participating in the competition.
Each year Business First retains Healthiest Employer LLC to administer the competition that’s open to employers of any size from across the eight counties of Western New York. Applicants are asked a series of 75 questions evaluating the effectiveness of their workplace wellness initiatives. A scoring index is created and companies are ranked by their size and scores.
“Wellness and Risk Reduction is an integral component of our Health Insurance Benefits for our employees and a key to controlling health care costs and maintaining a healthy workforce,” said Chautauqua County Budget Director Kitty Crow.
Over the years the County’s approach has transitioned from traditional Wellness to Risk Reduction. A Health and Wellness Committee with a mission to “provide integrated programs and resources that will promote and support health and wellness for employees and their families,” includes representatives from each union and management, members of the County Legislature, and County’s partners Univera Healthcare, Palladian EAP, and Crown Benefits. Data driven goals set by the committee focus on critical areas of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension and aim to reduce risk of these diseases in order to reduce healthcare costs.
The efforts of the committee have paid off. “Due in part to the Risk Reduction Programs, the County received a 2.5% reduction in its premium rates on January 1, 2014. This is especially significant since health care cost increases in Western New York continue to trend at more than 9% a year,” says Hugh Tranum of Crown Benefits Group, the County’s Health Insurance broker.
Health and Wellness consultant Lisa Drzyzga of Univera Healthcare, the County’s health insurer said, “There has been increased participation in weight loss and exercise activities. These programs along with the data showing decreases in emergency room visits and increased generic drug utilization demonstrate that Chautauqua County employees are making positive informed choices in their health and wellness decisions.”
The result is improved health status for Chautauqua County employees, and recognition from Business First that Chautauqua County is one of the healthiest employers in Western New York.
“I congratulate our wellness team and our healthy workforce,” said Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan. “I am so proud of our county employees and especially the leadership of our Health and Wellness Committee. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce that sets a great example for all to follow. The benefit of having healthy workers translates to lower health insurance rates and reduces the cost of County Government.”
For more information on Chautauqua County’s Employee Health and Wellness program contact the Chautauqua County Health Insurance Office at (716) 753-4292 or Human Resources Department at (716) 753-4237 or Crown Benefits at (716) 485-3444.