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Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013

Olathe health program is cutting risks and lowering costs

Special to The Star

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A city-funded wellness program is continuing to make Olathe employees healthier.

At its meeting Tuesday evening, the City Council learned that since partnering with the Wellness Innovations & Nursing Services in 2009, Olathe city employees have been losing weight and dramatically reducing their risk of serious diseases.

As a result, fewer insurance claims are being filed, which helps the city financially.

The program provides a free clinic with a nurse practitioner where city employees and their spouses can voluntarily receive health evaluations.

More than 80 percent of Olathe’s city employees participate in the program, WINS president Tracy Fry told the council.

In the last year, five participants quit smoking, more than 200 have reduced their blood pressure and more than 100 have lowered their cholesterol.

More than 100 participants have lost weight.

As a result, the reductions in insurance claims saved Olathe hundreds of thousands of dollars last year.

Fry said WINS would like to see employee participation increase this year to 90 percent and also see spousal participation increase to 50 percent. Currently, only 20 percent of spouses participate.

The governing body was pleased by the results.

“This is a fabulous program and I don’t know why every city doesn’t have a program like this one,” said Councilman Jim Randall.

Council member Marge Vogt agreed.

“This is great news and makes me smile,” she said.

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