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Innovative Wellness Project Launched in Four Maine School Districts

Goal is to improve health of school staff

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- School teachers and staff in four Maine districts will have an opportunity to participate in a two-year pilot project designed to lower their health risks and improve their overall health. The joint project of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its foundation, the Maine Education Association Benefits Trust and school districts based in Gardiner, Hampden, Readfield and Topsham will build on the experience gained by several Maine businesses to improve employee health.

"This school wellness pilot project will be a valuable demonstration of an approach to improve health and lower health risk factors that makes the connection between lifestyle choices and overall health," said Dan Corcoran, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is providing major funding, along with the MEA Benefits Trust, to launch this pilot project.

"By having health coaches work one-on-one with school teachers and staff, we hope to demonstrate effective ways to reduce risk factors that contribute to poor health later in life and give our school staff the knowledge and skills to live healthy lives," said Christine Burke, executive director, MEA Benefits Trust.

The project will contract with Occupational Medical Consulting of Leeds, ME, a leading health and wellness company that provides services to Maine businesses.

The two year project is open to teachers and other district staff who have elected to take the health insurance benefit offered by their school district. After assessing the individual districts' cultural readiness to support wellness, OMC will measure each individual's health risk burden using biometric testing and health risk appraisals. Individuals will then determine which risks they feel are most in need of change. OMC's health coaches then work with participants to develop and maintain motivation for change.

"This personalized approach to health coaching has been effective in helping employees to reduce their risk factors and improve their health, and has substantially reduced healthcare spending in our longstanding clients," said OMC's founder and medical director, Dr. Larry Catlett.

The project is scheduled to start this month and is the first comprehensive wellness program of its kind in Maine schools.

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine
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