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In August, Atlantic General Hospital joined other Eastern Shore employers in signing the Healthiest Maryland commitment board at a ceremony at Salisbury University, one more milestone in the efforts the organization has undertaken in recent years to improve the health of its employees. Healthiest Maryland is a voluntary statewide initiative launched by Governor Martin O’Malley in May to promote health management practices in the workplace.

Through the Associates Getting Healthy Wellness Program formally launched two years ago, Atlantic General provides free annual cholesterol and blood glucose screenings as well as health risk assessments to its employees. Associates also have access to free wellness coaching and smoking cessation programs to receive the support they need to become healthier individuals.

“Our wellness program started small and is slowly growing, but associates are already noticing the benefits. Several members of the program have reported that they have lost weight and some were able to stop taking their blood pressure or cholesterol medication,” said Michelle Clifton, BSN, RN, the employee health nurse at Atlantic General. “We are using the electronic resources provided by Healthiest Maryland to seek new and innovative low cost methods of helping our associates make the best lifestyle decisions.”

Clifton was finally able kick a 20-year pack-a-day smoking habit in January using resources available through the program. “Our goal is to energize and empower our associates and to be there for them when they make up their mind to stop smoking or lose that first 10 pounds,” she said.

The wellness program is currently considering offering a farmers market on the main campus next spring and is working in collaboration with the director of food services to improve the selection and visibility of low- and reduced-fat items in the cafeteria to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice.

Associates Getting Healthy will also be participating in the Healthway Drive Block Party scheduled for October 16 to promote the one-mile walking path around the campus.