By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County commissioners are expected today to approve a new biometric screening and wellness program for most county employees they hope will improve the health of employees and bring down health-care costs.
The program, which will cost up to $38,500, involves 60 days’ worth of health screenings for conditions such as blood-pressure problems, diabetes, cholesterol and a check of the person’s body-mass index (which tells where a person falls on a range of body fatness).
The program also includes participation in the Lose and Win Program, which will be at the Warren YMCA and involves nutritional counseling and exercise for 16 weeks at no cost to the worker.
County employees with a body-mass index of 27.5 or higher will be eligible to participate in the Lose and Win Program, said Zachary Svette, chairman of the county’s Wellness Committee and operations director for the Trumbull County MetroParks.
As an example, a person 5-feet 7-inches tall and 185 pounds would have a body-mass index of 29, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our costs for our health care keep rising, so we want to identify high-blood pressure or that type of thing early so we don’t have the high-end costs later,” such as heart bypass surgery, Svette said.
“We’re trying to promote the health and wellness of our employees,” said county Commissioner Dan Polivka.
“Our insurance company recommended it because some of the claims have gone up,” he said.
“We were not at the bottom, but we want to improve to keep our employees from getting diabetes and all of that.
“If they’re healthy, it costs us less and they live a longer life,” he said, adding that if the program only pays for itself and doesn’t give the county a financial benefit, “it’s worth it.”
Mel Milliron, educator for the county health department, said statistics indicate that Trumbull and Mahoning counties have an obesity rate of 28 percent, below the state average of 29.2 percent but above the national rate of 26.3 percent.
The county joins several other public and private organizations that provide such programs.
They include the Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system, both hospital systems and corporations such as General Electric and LaFarge, Milliron said.