Livingstone College employees receive free checkup at health fair

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2013

In this day and age of skyrocketing health care costs and the uncertainty about America’s future one thing is for sure: It’s never too soon to start being more health conscious.
Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. knows that, and he wants to ensure his employees are as healthy as possible. After all, a healthier staff keeps costs down for the institution and also increases productivity.
Health and Wellness is one of the modules of the Holistic College Jenkins implemented when he arrived at Livingstone in 2006. And on Oct. 23 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the college held a health fair in New Trent Gym at which employees received free, confidential screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and pulse and their body mass index, or BMI.
“I cannot overstate the importance of good health,” Jenkins said after undergoing a few screenings. “It’s something we all should strive for, and something those who have should never take for granted. No matter what you achieve in life, if you don’t have good health to complement your success you really don’t have as much success as you think.”
The health fair was Jenkins’ brainchild and, by all measures, successful.
Employees were allowed to schedule screening appointments in advance, but some stopped by without appointments to ask questions of health officials.
Candice Johnson, director of development and donor relations at Livingstone, organized the health fair and was pleased with it.
“I was happy to see that faculty and staff took advantage of the free screenings and the opportunity to get answers to questions they needed,” Johnson said. “I hope this health fair will be the first of many at the college, and I’m grateful to the companies that supported us and were on campus to be a part of it.”
Susan Kish, strategic account manager for Coventry Health Care, said she considers the health fair the first step toward furthering wellness education. Coventry Health Care coordinated with Summit Health to provide biometric screenings for employees.
“We don’t do this for all of our clients,” Kish said. “With the long-term relationship we’ve had with Livingstone College we were able to assist with promoting the wellness philosophy of Dr. Jenkins. He has really been pushing to get this done.”
Biometrics isn’t Coventry’s only goal, Kish said, adding that officials want individuals to be engaged in their health care.
“One of the ways they can do that is by knowing their numbers,” she said. “Another way they can be engaged is by participating in nine digital coaching modules that are available online for weight management, tobacco cessation, nutrition improvement, stress management, physical activity, cholesterol management, overcoming insomnia, blood pressure management and overcoming depression.”
Kish said she hopes Coventry will be able to coordinate with Livingstone in the future on similar events.
So does Val Velte, a registered nurse who works in Corporate & Community Wellness for Novant Health, Rowan Medical Center.
“For this health fair and usually for the other health fairs we do there are three things we want to accomplish,” Velte said. “We want to raise awareness for taking care of yourself and knowing what kinds of health risks are out there, to provide individuals with education so they are equipped with tools to avoid problems and to assist individuals on making changes, for instance if their diet isn’t healthy.”
After discussing with Johnson some specific areas of interest for the college, Velte said Novant sent six representatives to the fair, including Jill McNeely, breast health navigator. The event was attended by faculty and staff in the afternoon and students in the morning.
“We brought models and tried to help young people realize smoking isn’t something they want to start or if they’ve started that it’s something they need to stop,” Velte said. “We also had a sign titled ‘Sugar Shockers’ that showed drinks young people like, including energy drinks, and how many cubes of sugar are in each. All of those bad choices can lead to health issues down the line, like diabetes.”
Velte said she thought the health fair, Livingstone’s first, was good.
“I think it’s definitely an eye opener and a good way to heighten awareness about one’s health,” she said. “Attendance will grow as you have other health events on campus. You’ll start making an impact and people will start thinking about walking across campus to meetings instead of driving, or getting a healthy snack out of the vending machine instead of something that’s not so good. I definitely think the students were very engaged, as well as the staff.”