American Cancer Society helps businesses create wellness programs

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

The American Cancer Society is helping businesses to develop wellness programs, many of which are specifically designed to prevent cancer and related illnesse.

If successful, the programs, named Employer Initiatives (EIs), could help businesses keep their employees healthier and therefore reduce the number of employees filing claims for expensive medical bills, as well as reducing the times when employees are away from work for serious health problems, including cancer.

The Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society introduced the new suite of services earlier this year, said Lauren Derocher, an EI coordinator in the division.

Through EI, the nonprofit organization is able to help businesses develop physical activity programs, health and wellness Web sites, cancer screening and smoking cessation programs. The EI program also helps employers create healthy meeting practices and e-newsletters that deliver healthy living tips to employees.

People spend as much as three-quarters of their waking hours at work. That’s why the American Cancer Society developed a plan to reach out to them at work, instead of relying on their free time, Derocher said.

“Because one of our 2015 goals is to decrease cancer by 50 percent, we’re looking at prevention and early detection,” she said. “This is a whole new idea and thinking for the Cancer Society – finding ways we can get companies involved in all areas (of cancer prevention).”

The Quitline Corporate Alliance, which has a dedicated telephone support line for employees who are quitting smoking, is the only program within the EI group with built-in fees, Derocher said. All of the other programs are offered for free.

Derocher or other American Cancer Society officials work with companies to develop a custom approach for each employer, its workers and any unique situations the company might have.

“We help them set up the structure,” she said. “I will help companies plan their program and train the company. Then they take over.”

One of the EI programs is Active for Life, in which employers are able to design their own 10-week physical activity and health awareness programs. Active for Life gives employers a framework to develop their own programs with the assistance of American Cancer Society workers. Although there is no cost for the framework, employers are responsible for providing their own incentives to employees.

Active for Life also enables employers to design Web sites to help share information and allow employees to track their own progress. The sites can be linked to an employer’s secure intranet site, Derocher said, making employee logons secure and easy.

“It’s flexible for a company, and they can start (the program) when they need to,” she said. “I help companies plan their programs and train the company how to run it. Then they take it over.”

The EI program might be especially successful with small businesses, Derocher said, because many small companies do not have employees to oversee and develop wellness programs in-house.

“A lot of small companies don’t want to or aren’t able to pay for wellness programs,” she said. “They can come to the American Cancer Society, and we’ll help them develop one for free.”

Although the American Cancer Society is most commonly known for its emphasis on smoking cessation to prevent lung cancer, the nonprofit is also focused on colorectal, prostate and breast cancer, Derocher said.

Editor’s note:
For more information on workplace solutions available from the American Cancer Society, visit www.acsworkplacesolutions.com.

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