Health e-News
February 2014
Stages of Change
Heart-Healthy Habits at Work
What's Happening at Affinity?
Welcome Vivian Onunkwo, MD, MSPH
Get Heart Healthy
Ache Breaks
Benefits of On-Site Services
Breakfast With the Experts
Quick Links

We're full swing into 2014, so how are your New Year's resolutions coming along? If you've lost motivation, you're not alone. In this edition of Health e-News, read our insightful article on the stages of change, and learn how you can motivate yourself and others to keep working toward important wellness goals.


February is Heart Month, so this month's news also contains some valuable heart health information from our wellness specialists and new Affinity Occupational Health physician Dr. Vivian Onunkwo. Please join us in welcoming her to the Affinity team!

To pass along this helpful e-news to your employees, please share a version designed just for them at:  


Happy Heart Month! 

Linda Hale-Graves

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

Stages of Change: Keeping Motivated to Meet Goals

By Megan Klug, wellness account specialist
At the first of the year most people have high hopes for making some big changes with New Year's resolutions. After a few weeks or months go by, many people are not as motivated to stick with their resolution. Why does this happen? Why is it so difficult to stick to the goals we set, and why is it that many people wait until January 1 to make changes?
It is important to understand the stages of change so you can decide if the time is right to make a change, which will affect your success in carrying out goals long-term. Often, resolutions or goals fail because a person has not given enough thought or time to each stage of change.  
"Stages of Change Model," also known as the "Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change" is used to describe how behavior change occurs. The Transtheoretical Model assesses an individual's readiness to act on a healthier behavior, and provides strategies or processes of change. Remember that behavior change is a process; each individual is different and at various stages of change. They can enter or exit stages 1-6 at any point. Some people may repeat a stage several times, or a relapse may occur and then place them in a different stage.
Each of the stages of change is described as follows.  
1. Precontemplation
Individuals in this stage are unaware that they need to make a change; therefore, they are not considering making a change.
2. Contemplation
Individuals in this stage acknowledge the need for a change and are intending to start a new behavior within the next six months. They begin to evaluate the pros, cons, benefits, and barriers to making a change. 
3.  Preparation
Individuals in this stage are ready to make the change within the next month. The first step in this stage is to set a goal, and remember goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed). Preparing a well thought out plan will help when moving into the next stage, action.
4. Action
Individuals in this stage are living the new behavior and making it a part of their everyday life. During this stage it is recommended that individuals seek support from people they trust. It is difficult to make a change alone; support from close family and friends can help.
5. Maintenance
During this stage, a person has changed their behavior more than six months ago. Individuals successfully avoid former behaviors and are keeping up new behaviors. During this stage, look for ways to avoid temptation so you do not fall back into old behaviors. If you lapse, do not get down on yourself; instead remind yourself how far you have come and think of it as a minor setback.
6. Relapse
In any behavior change, relapses are common. The key to success is to not let your setbacks stop your behavior change completely. Look at relapse as a time for learning; what went wrong, what could you have done differently, what can you do to better prepare in the future.
Now that you have a better understanding of the stages of change, let's go back and discuss why resolutions or goals can fail. Resolutions and goals tend to fail when there is a lack of preparation. Approach a new goal or behavior with a clear understanding on how to best prepare. Ask yourself if you have the resources and knowledge to successfully make a lasting change, what barriers might prevent you from changing, and what strategies can you put into place to overcome barriers.
Tips for Employers
How to help employees with behavior change
As an employer, it is essential to understand that your employees have a wide variety of behaviors that they are interested in changing and are at different stages of change. Offering different types of programs can help reach more people. Offer interactive interventions as well as awareness campaigns. Utilize your health risk assessment (health questionnaire) reports to learn about your employees' risks and if they are ready to start making changes to those risks. 
Consider offering on-site or telephonic coaching programs to your employees. A health coach can help an individual set realistic goals, evaluate barriers, and determine strategies to overcome those barriers. A health coach can also provide participants with additional information on topics such as tobacco cessation, nutrition, exercise, and stress management.
When offering interventions or challenges, try having team-based options. Some people work well in teams, while others prefer to work alone. Mix up challenges and try to offer both individual and team-based activities. Teammates can provide additional motivation and support. 
Simple awareness campaigns following monthly observances is a great way to get employees thinking about making a change. Follow this link to learn more about monthly observances
Offer an on-site or webinar format goal-setting lunch and learn. Teaching employees how to set SMART goals when they are ready for a behavior change can help them achieve greater success long-term. 

Try This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Heart-Healthy Habits at Work

By Rachel Johnson, wellness account specialist


February is American Heart Month, and "Go Red for Women Day" falls on February 7, 2014. Support heart health within your organization by implementing a couple heart-healthy changes in February!


1. By making a simple change of removing the salt shakers from your lunch and break areas, you can help employees cut back on daily sodium intake. Replace salt shakers with sodium-free seasonings, pepper and herbs!


2. Encourage employees to take a heart-healthy break by finding volunteers within your company to be stretch leaders. Stretch leaders will gather troops once a day before, during, or after a shift to lead everyone in five minutes of stretching. A simple daily stretch break can build morale and help employees relieve stress, release tension and relax their minds.  


What's Happening at Affinity? 

Aware and Prepare
A free educational event about managing and preventing diabetes
Wednesday, February 26
5 - 8:30 p.m.
Chilton High School
530 W Main St., Chilton
Join us for an evening with Dr. Laura Andrews, endocrinologist with Affinity Medical Group, who will provide education on diabetes with a special focus on Type 2. After Dr. Andrews' presentation, you have the option to attend up to two breakout sessions focusing on more specific areas of interest involving diabetes. Session options include:
  • Healthy eating and carbohydrate counting
  • Medication management
  • Coping and stress management
  • The role and importance of exercise
  • Lifestyle, management and prevention
  • The role podiatry plays in diabetes

Heartburn and Acid Reflux: Causes and New Treatment Options
What may have seemed like science fiction, surgery without an incision, is now a reality that is making lives better for patients suffering from chronic acid reflux also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). At this seminar, Dr. Peter Janu, general surgeon, will provide educational information about GERD as well as common treatment options including the new TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication) procedure.
Three dates and locations are available:
Monday, March 10
5:30 - 7 p.m.
Radisson Paper Valley Hotel
333 W College Ave.
Fond du Lac
Monday, May 12
5:30 - 7 p.m.
Holliday Inn
625 Rolling Meadows Dr.
Monday, July 21
5:30 - 7 p.m.
Holiday Inn
4601 Calumet Ave.

Welcome Vivian Onunkwo, MD, MSPH           


We are pleased to welcome Dr. Vivian Onunkwo to our team of Affinity Occupational Health physicians. Dr. Onunkwo provides work injury care, respiratory exams, hazardous materials surveillance, medical review for controlled substance testing, Department of Transportation physicals, fitness for duty examinations and return to duty examinations for all working men and women.


She has a special interest in work-related injury and care management and prevention. Her goal is to help employers and employees cultivate and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the workplace.


Dr. Onunkwo earned her medical degree from the University of Nigeria College of Medicine and served her residency at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. She is board-certified in occupational medicine.


Outside of the office, Dr. Onunkwo enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and traveling.


If you would like to learn more about Dr. Onunkwo or schedule an appointment, call (920) 727-8700 (Menasha) or (920) 223-7075 (Oshkosh).  

Get Heart Healthy 

By Vivian Onunkwo, MD, Affinity Occupational Health


Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This includes heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.


Most of the risk factors for heart disease can be prevented or treated with lifestyle changes and medication. Risk factors include:

  • Diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (high triglycerides and low HDL or "good" cholesterol)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heavy alcohol use

People with multiple risk factors are at higher risk for developing heart disease. Here are some steps you can take to decrease your risks.


Healthy diet - Healthy diets significantly lower risks of heart disease. Healthy diets consist of:

  • Five or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables daily
  • Monounsaturated fat rather than trans fatty acids or saturated fats
  • Low sodium intake.
  • Whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereals and oatmeal) rather than refined grains (white bread, white rice, refined and sweetened cereals). Refined grains are associated with long-term weight gain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk products (skim milk, yogurt)
  • Protein-rich foods, including seafood, lean meat such as poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Limited consumption of soft drinks and other sweetened beverages (fruit drinks).

Physical activity - Studies show increased physical activity lowers the chances that a person will develop or die from heart disease. Common recommendations include 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise, or brisk walking for 20 minutes daily.


Weight loss - Obesity increases several major and modifiable risk factors for heart disease including hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes. Weight loss decreases these risks. 


Smoking cessation - Cigarette smoking is the leading avoidable cause of premature death. When a person quits smoking, benefits begin to appear after only a few months and reach that of the nonsmoker in several years. Approaches to smoking cessation include behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement therapy, and other drug therapies.


Hypertension control - High blood pressure is a well-established risk factor for heart disease and can be managed though diet, exercise and drug therapy as appropriate.


Dyslipidemia control - Better cholesterol levels can be achieved through exercise, diet and drug therapy as appropriate.


Diabetes control - Diabetes is also regarded as a heart disease equivalent. Controlling your blood sugar involves weight management, blood pressure and lipid control to prevent some of the complications that lead to heart disease.


Alcohol - Studies show that consuming small amounts of alcohol lowers the risks of developing or dying from heart disease. The benefit of small daily alcohol intake must be weighed against the increased risks that are apparent when a person consumes more than one drink daily.


Aspirin - Aspirin therapy can be effective only when recommended by your doctor. Be sure to talk with your care team about whether or not a daily aspirin can benefit you.


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise not only prevents heart disease, but also wards off other illnesses. So get heart-healthy. It will make a big impact on your quality of life!

Introducing "Ache Breaks"
Self Care for Sore Shoulders, Bad Backs, Aching Knees, and Hurting Hips
By Kim Ice, wellness specialist


Help employees take a break from aches by implementing Affinity's easy-to-use Ache Breaks workplace wellness program. This multimedia awareness campaign focuses on culture change and employee education, enabling employees to help improve their behaviors.


The 12-week campaign consists of four modules, each focusing on a different body part (shoulders, backs, knees and hips). You'll receive ready-made educational flyers and table tents on a USB drive, including simple step-by-step instructions for easy deployment to your employees.


Basic Program:

  • Educational flyers: Available to e-mail or print, these flyers are witty, informative and educational, keeping the employee engaged and on the road to relief from their overall aches or pains.
  • Table tents: These eye-catching table tents provide quick hints and tips that can be displayed in high traffic areas for maximum exposure.
  • Stretching posters: These easy-to-follow 11x17 posters include pictures and instructions for proper stretching techniques.

Advanced Program:
Includes everything in the Basic Program, plus:

  • On-site health coaching: Our personalized coaching sessions help employees set goals and develop a plan to improve their overall health.
  • On-site wellness presentations: Our wellness account specialists will conduct educational presentations and demonstrations on a variety of health and wellness topics.

For more information, contact Kim Ice at  

The Benefits of On-Site Services


Did you know? By providing on-site medical services to your workforce, you can help keep employees healthy and on the job--which saves time, productivity and costs.


Affinity Occupational Health offers experienced medical professionals who will come to your workplace to deliver a variety of services, including:

  • Physicals
  • Physician and nursing care
  • Wellness programs
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Flu shots and vaccinations
  • Ergonomic evaluations
  • Job analysis
  • Education and training
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Spirometry
  • Audiograms
  • Critical incident stress debriefing
  • Conflict resolution
  • And more...

For more information or to get started with on-site services in your workplace, contact Cindy Budiac at (920) 628-1533 or

 Breakfast With the Experts 
Save the date!
Wednesday, March 12
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah
Details will be coming soon! Watch your e-mail for topic and registration information.
Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 

Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service. 


Cindy Budiac
, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, is available to help clients determine the right services and programs for their needs. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in clinical health care, sales and business development. As our newest account manager, Cindy looks forward to meeting you and partnering on all your occupational health needs. 

To contact Holly, Tammy or Cindy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail, or