Yampa Valley Medical Center registered dietitian Cara Marrs talks with employees at Steamboat Ski Area as part of a program designed to improve workers’ health through a better diet.

Photo by John F. Russell

Yampa Valley Medical Center registered dietitian Cara Marrs talks with employees at Steamboat Ski Area as part of a program designed to improve workers’ health through a better diet.

Yampa Valley Medical Center's wellness program helping employers save money, employees stay healthy

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— With the cost of health care premiums rising, some large employers in Steamboat Springs are turning to a wellness program run by Yampa Valley Medical Center to qualify for insurance discounts and to keep their employees healthier.

In recent years, the hospital’s wellness program has provided stress-management seminars for city of Steamboat Springs employees, organized an annual health fair at Yampa Valley Electric Association and put dietitians in front of Steamboat Ski Area employees.

“I think that with the way health care is changing, at the end of 2013 and into 2014 you might see some more employers jump into (the wellness programs) more consistently,” said Lisa Bankard, the hospital’s wellness and community education director.

But today, the hospital’s wellness program isn’t big enough to accommodate a rush of new employers.

Bankard said the program’s two dedicated staff members focus 70 percent of their efforts running wellness programs for the hospital’s own employees.

“We’d like to market to more employers, but we need to make sure we have the staff to do it,” Bankard said.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is in discussions with YVMC to better educate employers about wellness programs and the benefits they provide.

Bankard said employers can do a lot, even on a shoestring budget.

“They can do poster campaigns and pedometer campaigns,” Bankard said. “It doesn’t have to take a lot out of your budget.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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