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Eating healthy, exercising daily, losing weight, learning about health and wellness. And, of course, helping customers with all of their insurance needs. It’s all in a day’s work at Allen Insurance and Financial.

From left, Kathi Jones and Karen Reed of Allen Insurance and Financial; Troy Curtis, executive director, Pen Bay YMCA and Vikki Swan, health coach, Pen Bay's Health Connections.
From left, Kathi Jones and Karen Reed of Allen Insurance and Financial; Troy Curtis, executive director, Pen Bay YMCA and Vikki Swan, health coach, Pen Bay’s Health Connections.

For the past seven months, employees at Allen Insurance and Financial have been participating in a company wellness program. Set up by Health Connections, the Occupational Health department at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in cooperation with the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport, the program is a model for other Midcoast businesses.

“The ideal wellness partnership is a collaborative effort and results in healthier, happier – and, ideally, more productive – employees,” said James Carroll, Health Connections director. “With Allen Insurance and Financial, that’s what we have.”

Health Connections provides in-clinic or on-site services to employers for health screenings and risk assessments, hearing & vision checks, stress management, nutritional counseling, smoking cessation programs and more. These wellness programs are available to businesses and organizations of any size.

Teaming up with the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport was an easy decision, said Carroll. In the case of the Allen program, the Y’s ability to allow dues to be paid through payroll deduction, as well as advice from the Y’s fitness experts and convenient class schedules, made the collaboration a natural fit.

“The Penobscot Bay YMCA is committed to creating a healthier Knox County,” said Troy Curtis, the Y executive director. “As a part of this effort, the YMCA is working with local business to create policy and environmental changes that encourage increased physical activity and better nutritional habits. Employer-sponsored wellness programs such as the one at Allen Insurance and Financial is a great model program that the YMCA will look to share with other businesses in our service area.”

“The YMCA and Health Connections have helped our employees reinforce a positive attitude about living healthier lives,” said Sara Montgomery, Allen Insurance senior vice president. “This is important work and the rewards have been incredible.”

Nearly every one of the 60 Allen employees is a Wellness Program participant. All together, Allen people have lost almost 200 pounds since January. They have dropped points on their blood pressure and cholesterol tests. One Allen participant has improved their blood pressure readings from 149/99 to 123/76. Another lost 30 pounds.

At Allen, gone is the honor-system snack box, stocked with crackers and candy bars. In its place, a special wellness bulletin board, with tips and recipes. Wellness-theme “lunch and learns” are scheduled quarterly.

Allen people in both the Camden and Rockland offices routinely carpool to the YMCA in Rockport or the Trade Winds Health Club for lunchtime exercise. A Weight Watchers class, open to the public, meets Tuesday evenings at the Allen offices in Camden.

One of the most successful participants has been commercial insurance specialist Karen Reed of Appleton who has lost 16 pounds since January and 76 pounds overall in the past year. Reed works in Allen’s Camden office and is a Pen Bay Y member.

“I appreciate the fact that we have become very proactive in helping our employees accomplish a healthy lifestyle,” said Reed. “The company is very flexible with scheduling so that we can take our break and lunch at the same time, carpool over to the Y and work out during out lunch break at the Y. Our group comes back refreshed from a good work out and ready to start the second half of our day.”

The typical employee wellness program from Health Connections is offered in the workplace and includes:

• Computer software that assists in identifying health risks.

• A health coach to assist in choosing the health risks individual employees should focus on to begin making healthier lifestyle choices.

• Completely confidentiality.

• Communication between the wellness program and a participant’s primary care provider, when requested.

• Software to help plot progress and improvements.

Penobscot Bay Medical Center is the leading regional referral hospital in Midcoast Maine and a member of the not-for-profit Pen Bay Healthcare family of services, which includes Pen Bay Physicians & Associates, Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, Quarry Hill Retirement Community and the Knox Center for Long Term Care. Through these organizations, and with a staff of more than 100 outstanding physicians and more than 1,500 healthcare professionals, we are able to provide the people of Midcoast Maine with a continuum of both routine and specialty patient-centered medical services. For more information, please visit pbmc.org.

The Pen Bay YMCA, located on Union Street in Rockport, serves people of all ages with wellness, recreational and social service opportunities that enrich and support lives. The 5,000 members and 16,000 program participants we engaged in YMCA activities last year represent only a fraction of the total population we serve. As a lead agent for Knox County’s Healthy Maine Partnership, we distribute nearly a half million dollars each year to local agencies for physical activity, nutrition, and substance abuse prevention work, impacting the overall health and wellbeing of thousands of individuals living and working in Knox County. Online: penbayymca.net.

 


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