Health e-News
January 2015
Top 10 Health Investments for the New Year
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Influenza: What You Need to Know
The Top 3 Occupational Health Programs You Should Never Cut from Your Budget
Eat Well, Be Well
Staff Feature
Breakfast with the Experts
Quick Links


A new year brings a fresh start -- a chance to recommit to healthy lifestyle choices and empower your workforce to make positive changes. But how?


This edition of Health e-News is full of information on how to set effective goals, programs to help you reach them, and which wellness efforts you can't afford to skip. 


Please share this valuable information with your employees. Their edition of this month's Health e-News is available at:

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you in health and wellness for the new year!


To your good health,   


Patti Groholski

Executive Director, Employer Solutions

yoga-woman-stretching.jpg Top 10 Health Investments for the New Year (and Beyond)

By Brian Harrison, MD


Illness has become very expensive these days. So, staying well is more important than ever. You must keep your body and mind healthy if you want your finances to be healthy, too.


But, like many things, it's easy to be penny wise and dollar foolish. If you try to save your money by spending nothing on maintaining your health, you will lose your health and your money, too. Staying healthy requires an investment of a little of your time and a little wisely-spent money. This will pay you big returns. It can be the wisest investment you make!


Here are Dr. Harrison's "Top 10 Health Investment Tips of Time and Money"


1. Use Your EAP

Learn how to access your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It costs you nothing. On the other hand, stress, depression, relationship problems, alcohol or other substance use problems can be very expensive. The mind and body are continuously connected. Mental health issues like these can lead to physical illness, and every type of physical illness is made worse by these mental health conditions. If you are in need, EAP is by far the most economical and accessible resource you can find.


2. Stop Smoking
If you use tobacco, you must quit. Even if it hasn't made you sick yet, it costs a bundle to use tobacco, almost $2,000 a year for a pack-a-day smoker. Once it makes you sick (and it will), your treatment could cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. But trying to quit cold turkey, without help, rarely gets the job done. Only 3 to 5 percent of cold turkey attempts work. Nicotine addiction is simply too powerful, and it is far too deadly a problem, to not deal with in the most effective way possible.

  • Most employers offer tobacco cessation assistance; see if there is a program available at work. It may be free.
  • Learn what your health plan offers for cessation coverage, such as for medicines and programs, which are far more effective than trying to quit without help.
  • And, you can always use Call It Quits telephone-based coaching (1-800-362-9900) or the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUITNOW) free.

So, what's stopping you from getting help to quit tobacco? Whatever the reason, compare it to this: lung cancer is almost entirely fatal (five-year survival rate less than 10 percent) and almost entirely preventable (90 percent of cases are due to smoking). Considering that every smoker has a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting this entirely fatal, entirely preventable, and entirely tragic disease, what's stopping you from quitting right now?


3. Take Your Meds - the Right Way

Prescription medicines can be expensive. But, the most costly prescription may be on one that you don't buy! That is the one your doctor prescribes, but which you fail to take. You must take your prescriptions exactly the way they are written, 100 percent. Not "usually" or "most of the time." Not 50 percent, 75 percent, or even 90 percent. They need to be used 100 percent the way your doctor advised. If your doctor's advice is unclear, ask questions and don't leave the office until you fully understand the answers. If you sense a problem later that worries you or that makes it hard to take your prescriptions 100 percent correctly, talk to the pharmacist. It's free! If the store window is too busy, ask for a time you can return, or a time the pharmacist can call you. But don't stop or skip medicines! Your doctor prescribed them for a good reason. If you disagree with your doctor, get a second or a third opinion. Find two doctors who agree, and choose the doctor you like best. Then follow that doctor's orders, 100 percent.


4. Have an Emergency Plan

It's 3 a.m. Who do you want to take your call? If you or a family member is sick or injured, you need to decide what to do very quickly and in a stressful situation. If the situation seems dangerous to life or limb (chest pain, uncontrollable bleeding, stroke symptoms, seizure, etc.) then call 911. If it isn't that kind of situation, call Affinity Nurse Direct (1-800-362-9900). Sound simple? That's what you need in a time like that, namely a simple plan of attack. Mistakes in those situations can be costly, either of money, or of health. Make the call, get advice, do it right the first time. Don't guess.


5. Limit Alcohol

Question: What do you call it when a man consumes five servings of alcohol in a day, or a woman consumes four servings? Answer: a drinking binge.


To some people, that seems like a lot of alcohol. To others, it sounds like nothing. But it doesn't matter how it "sounds" to you, what matters is what it really is. And, it really is a serious health risk! People who have drinking binges aren't necessarily alcoholics. And an occasional binge is not the same as a "bender." But regardless, it is a strain on your health. That amount of alcohol is enough to increase accident risks, both on that day and the next. It is enough to increase blood pressure, cause heart rhythm irregularities, and stress the liver. The binge drinking definition (five or more drinks for a man, four or more for a woman) comes from research that shows this much alcohol is too much for the body to handle safely.


If you choose to drink, you must do so only moderately, generally not more than two drinks in a day. As many people know, moderate drinking can be healthy. But binge drinking is definitely dangerous. And most people don't know that it's only a fine line between healthy moderate drinking and dangerous binge drinking. That extra beer or two will cost you more than just what you pay the bartender.


6. Prevent Diabetes

How easy is it to get diabetes? Very easy! In fact, if for some reason you wanted to get diabetes, you would be almost guaranteed to get it if you follow these "Four Easy Steps:"

  • Have relatives with diabetes (most of us do)
  • Get older (all of us do!)
  • Don't get enough exercise (very easy)
  • Eat the ordinary American diet (too many calories and too much sugar)

So, what do you do if you don't want diabetes? You have to avoid the Four Easy Steps! Obviously, the first two are things you can't do anything about. So you must change the only two things on the list that can be changed: diet and exercise. Eat fruits and vegetables every day. Exercise and be active. It's what you do every day that matters. Take the stairs, walk around the parking lot, kick a soccer ball around the back yard with your kids, bike to work, dance, jog, and push your vacuum cleaner around to fast and jazzy music. Do whatever it takes! You don't want diabetes!


7. Cut the Soda

What's the single unhealthiest thing in the average American diet? Without a doubt, it's soda. Sweetened sodas contain high fructose corn syrup, which is clearly linked to an increased risk of diabetes. It is an unnatural sugar, which stimulates a prolonged insulin response by the body. Over time, this "dulls" the body's ability to respond normally to its own insulin. Then a condition called "insulin resistance" begins. This leads to another set of problems called "metabolic syndrome." This is a pre-diabetic condition that also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that people who average just one can of soda a day have an almost 50 percent greater chance of developing metabolic syndrome than people who average less than one soda a day. Considering that a 12 oz. can of sweetened soda contains the equivalent of almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, this shouldn't be a surprise. But how's this for a surprise? Even diet sodas increase the risk of metabolic syndrome! Apparently their artificial sweeteners "sharpen the sweet tooth" and make people eat more sweets. So, drink less soda - a lot less. It should be only an occasional treat or reward, like dessert.


In the long run, the healthiest beverage is also the drink that is free and available everywhere - good old H2O!


8. Aspirin Therapy

Has your doctor advised you to take an aspirin, or a baby aspirin, every day to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke? Then, you'd better take your aspirin! As simple as it sounds, aspirin is among the most effective preventive treatments known to science, for those people in need. If your doctor hasn't advised you about this, then ask your doctor if you should take it, particularly if you've ever had a heart problem or stroke. But let your doctor decide. A doctor who knows you will know what's best for you.


9. Safety First

Home accidents are common, can be tragic, and cost money. Spend your money on home safety instead. Falls are the most serious type of home accident. Prevent them by throwing away that old and rickety ladder. Replace it with a new one that is safe and solid. It will cost less than the co-pay from an emergency room visit for a broken arm. Put up secure handrails in stairways and use them. Fix broken steps. Use a night light. Don't tolerate throw rugs that may slip and slide. Promptly salt or sand your slippery, icy steps this winter. And, Christmas lights that you can hang while both your feet are on the ground are just as festive as the ones your crazy neighbor puts on his rooftop!


And, you must play it safe! Use a bike helmet, and make sure your kids do, too. Be a safe boater, jet skier, water skier, snow boarder, downhill skier - whatever your pastime is.  If you hunt, do it from the ground. If you insist on climbing a tree, get a good deer stand; spend money if you have to. Use it correctly and stay clipped to the safety line. Deer hunters are hurt far more often by faulty tree stands than by firearms. But, that gun you're carrying can obviously devastate a fellow hunter. Whenever you have your hands on a gun during deer season, you are obligated to be wide awake, stone-cold sober and thinking of safety first.


10. Get Your Screenings

Don't miss the preventive screenings that are needed for your age and gender. Men need to begin annual prostate cancer screening with an exam and blood test (PSA) by their doctor by age 50 (45 for African-Americans and for those with a family history). Women need to start annual mammograms at age 40. And, everyone by age 50 needs colorectal cancer screening (colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy/barium enema plus fecal occult blood testing).


A word about colonoscopy: it can prevent, not just detect, colon cancer. It can find and remove pre-cancerous polyps. Once removed, a polyp has no chance of becoming a cancer.


So, get your screenings done. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And, it costs a whole lot less!

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for the New Year

By Casey Jordan, wellness educator


Making a New Year resolution is easy. Most of us have done it. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Work less. Save money. Most of us have also lost sight of a resolution, or simply gave up. Don't let a setback or what we might call failure prevent future resolutions from being made. Think S.M.A.R.T when you create your resolutions in 2015. Your likelihood of success will skyrocket.


S.M.A.R.T is an acronym used in evaluating goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting goals and tracking progress are essential steps in changing any behavior.


Specific: Goals that are specific provide structure and focus because they are defined. To set a specific goal, answer the six "W" questions.

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify location.
  • When: Establish a timeframe.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Determine specific reasons, purpose, or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

Measurable: A measurable goal answers these questions: How you will know you've accomplished your goal? How will you measure your progress? What gets measured gets improved.


Attainable: Strive for goals that are challenging but within reach. Become personally invested in goals as this will provide greater meaning and value.


Realistic: Ensure your goal can be accomplished physically and mentally, as well as within the timeframe you have in mind.


Timely: Placing a timeframe on a goal creates a sense of urgency and reduces the tendency to postpone efforts.

Examples of S.M.A.R.T goals:


Between January 1 and March 1, I will exercise three days a week by walking 20 minutes on the treadmill. I will record this in my calendar.


I will cut back my soda intake to three cans a week for the month of February.


So, what are you waiting for? Start 2015 off with a bang. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals!

Influenza: What You Need to Know


Influenza has struck Wisconsin hard, and it's more important than ever to take steps to prevent the spread of this unpleasant virus. Here's what you need to know.

What is influenza?
Influenza is an upper respiratory illness caused by a virus. It is more severe than the common cold, and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections. Many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, yet there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza: 

  1. Fever
  2. Aches
  3. Chills
  4. Tiredness
  5. Sudden symptoms

Fever, headache, severe body aches and chills are red flags for the flu. These symptoms often appear suddenly, within three to six hours, and will likely be accompanied by extreme fatigue. Flu sufferers are likely to sleep all day.

How can you prevent it?
While an unanticipated change in the Influenza A strain has decreased the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine to about 60 percent, there is still much we can do to ward off the flu. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following:

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cleanse your hands with one or the other, anytime you have touched your eyes, nose, or mouth.

* Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Anyone with a fever should stay home from work, school, shopping or socializing until the fever is gone for 24 hours without help from fever-reducing medicine.

* Routinely clean frequently touched objects or surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards and phones.

* Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

What should you do if you get it?
If you feel sick at work or school, go home as soon as possible. In most low-risk cases the flu runs its course and improves within a week or two. Get plenty of rest and drink ample fluids.

If you suspect you have the flu and you're concerned about the severity or your risk for complications, call your doctor right away to ask if he or she can prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu. If taken within 12 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, antivirals can stop the flu from spreading throughout your body and shorten the duration of your misery, as well as reduce your chances of complications.

Watch your symptoms for any signs of respiratory distress or dehydration. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following*:

In infants:
* Being unable to eat
* Has trouble breathing
* Has no tears when crying (sign of dehydration)
* Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (sign of dehydration)

In children:
* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
* Fever with a rash

In adults:
* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Confusion
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

*Source: CDC

3_piggy_banks.jpg The Top 3 Occupational Health Programs You Should Never Cut from Your Budget

By Christopher Westra, MD


At my public health alma mater, West Virginia University, a very seasoned head of the public health department was retiring. In his retirement remarks he had a number of comments to an auditorium of public health students and faculty. As a young gooey-eyed physician, I was anticipating a strong emphasis on good medical care, proper regular exercise and sound nutrition - maybe something on the importance of good sanitation and clean water. In one of his summarizing statements he said and I paraphrase, "if you give people good jobs, good health will follow."


While I was initially disappointed in his remarks, I have grown to appreciate its wisdom and simplicity. He had seen the culture of West Virginia go through economic prosperity and failure. He had seen the social ills of unemployment and idleness. He had seen wellness go through its different diet and exercise fads. He saw health care practices change. In all this, he recognized the thing that made the biggest difference for the masses of people was a sense of purpose, security, direction, belonging and the prosperity that accompanies a good employment opportunity.


I anticipate that he would further define a good employment opportunity as one with an appropriate emphasis on health and safety. This begins with a good business management team that recognizes the multiple aspects of a working population. A management team that can look into the eyes of the workforce and recognize when they are unfulfilled, when they are doing well, when they are under duress and when they are on the verge of collapse.


Workers come to the workplace with different levels of social support and coping skills. Some have very supportive families. Some have disruptive families. Some have supportive lifestyle habits. Some have corrosive lifestyle habits. The persistent message that needs to come from the workplace is, let's engage in those habits that build capacity, that build functional status, that build contributors. During tough economic times, the skills to prudently manage and meet the needs of the workforce have a huge impact on the bottom line.


1. EAP

Economic pressures, and the uncertainty they bring, inherently stress people. In difficult times workers need to be reminded of the things that sustain them. If they are not reminded of these issues, people can, and often will, undercut their own ability to function within society, including the workplace. This support begins with mental health support services such as are available through EAP, health plan counselors and others. This is the first program that should always be available. Many medical issues start out as loss of mental well-being and bloom into crises only after the issues are repeatedly neglected. Liberal access to mental health services prevents medical issues at an early and pre-clinical stage. If people are mentally-centered, they will be more capable of being optimally productive. They will be less likely to cut corners. Both factors are important in maintaining a productive, safe workplace.

2. Wellness Initiatives

Because mental health is intimately related to how we maintain our bodies, the second message that needs to be heard is a persistent emphasis on the value of exercise, nutrition, and sound rest and recovery. This doesn't have to be elaborate and can often be carried with company support by internal wellness champions - those that have a "natural" affinity for promoting a healthy lifestyle. Management through sponsoring health events throughout the year provides tangible regular support. A smoke-free workplace is another outward display.


3. Safety Programs

Accidents have the potential to adversely affect people's lives in acute and significant ways. The third program that should always be present is the emphasis on safety. Safety programs prevent personal injury and death. They also protect loss to the business. Part of safety is a drug-free workplace. A strong drug policy sends that message that, "If you are going to work and live in this community, illegal drugs better not be part of your lifestyle choice." This has positive implications for workplaces and the neighborhoods people live in.


Well populations of people are good for business. Investment in wellness is smart medicine!

gourmet-forks-plate.jpg Eat Well, Be Well

Looking for an effective food and fitness program for your employees? Introducing Eat Well, Be Well -- an interactive program designed to motivate participants toward lasting change in their nutrition and exercise habits.


The Eat Well, Be Well program includes:

  • Three on-site presentations
  • An initial biometric check
  • Personal food journals including nutrition information, recipes, and success tips for weight maintenance
  • A resistance band for each participant
  • Program materials needed to interact and participate in presentations
  • Two full days (8 hours) of onsite one-on-one appointments
  • Weekly e-mail announcements to keep participants engaged and motivated

Presentation 1: Nutrition 101
Topics covered: Healthy lifestyle nutrition basics, food journaling, and goal setting for success


Presentation 2: Mindful Eating
Topics covered: Mindful eating and the importance of exercise in weight maintenance

Presentation 3: Lapse, Relapse, and Collapse Prevention
Topics covered: Preventing lapse, relapse, and collapse


For more information, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 223-9256.

Staff Feature: Melissa Kedrowicz

As Affinity Health System and Ministry Health Care merged into one unified Employer Solutions team, our staff expanded to include several new friendly faces. This month, we'd like to introduce you to one of them, Melissa Kedrowicz.


Melissa has worked for Ministry Health Care for four years. She began in a sales role with Occupational Health, and then moved into a corporate sales position with a focus of on-site clinics. In her current role, Melissa works as a sales account executive for Employer Solutions in the East region, where she is responsible for new sales development throughout Brown and Outagamie counties and surrounding areas.


Prior to working with Ministry, Melissa worked in pharmaceutical sales for Johnson & Johnson for 15 years. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her two incredible boys, Carter, age 13, and Drew, age 10, and spending time with friends and family.


Melissa can be reached at  

tea-cup-breakfast.jpg Breakfast With the Experts

Lifestyle Habits 2015: Will they be your Faithful Servant or your Terrible Master?

Presented by Nancy Murphy, APNP


Wednesday, January 14

7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah


Explore a 365-day approach to health and wellness by making small, simple changes in diet and exercise. Topics will include:

  • Nutrition, including food choices/reading labels
  • Strategies for change
  • Making the most out of your exercise
  • Reward system
  • Benefits/risks of lifestyle choices

Nancy Murphy is an advanced nurse practitioner with Employer Solutions.  She provides wellness and preventive care, injury care, DOT certified medical examinations, pre-placement tests and screening examinations. Nancy has a special interest in education to assist individuals in healing, establishing their individual health and wellness goals including nutrition and exercise planning, injury prevention, and tobacco cessation. She has a master's degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.


To register for this free seminar, please contact Stefanie Armstrong at

Contact Employer Solutions

To contact an Employer Solutions sales associate, call our office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail,,, or