HUDSON — Whittier Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Ghent was recognized by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce for initiatives it implemented to help employees live healthier lives.
Whittier won the chamber’s Corporate/Community Health and Wellness Challenge, which is part of the chamber’s Move Columbia initiative to increase healthy living across the county.
The chamber called the challenge the 60-day sprint challenging participating businesses to help employees commit to healthier lifestyles in areas such as nutrition, physical fitness, mental and emotional wellness and financial wellness. For each category there are several activities employees can do to score points for the business.
“Before we started this initiative Columbia County was ranked 26th of 62 New York counties in a list of the healthiest counties in the state,” said Columbia County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Hunt. “Now we are 20th in the state.”
The list Hunt cited came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“This challenge motivated us to create a wellness committee,” Whittier Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center Administrator Josh Gurock said. “The committee created programming to help employees develop healthier lifestyles.”
The challenge started with 11 companies participating, but not all the companies completed the challenge, Hunt said.
Five companies completed the challenge including Taconic Biosciences, the Columbia Land Conservancy, Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, MetzWood Insurance and Whittier. All participants who completed the challenge were recognized at a press conference Tuesday.
Whittier provided its approximate 150 employees with several resources and challenges that helped motivate them to exercise and eat healthier, Gurock said, including easy-to-make healthy recipes, five-minute wellness activities and simple activities meant to help employees relieve stress.
“This is a full wellness program,” Gurock said. “It encourages not only physical health and healthy eating, but it also helps with spiritual and economic wellness.”
People working at places such as Whittier rarely look after their own well-being, Gurock said.
“People who work in this field often do not focus on themselves because they are focused on helping others stay healthy,” Gurock said. “But we recognize that taking care of yourself can help you take care of others.”
Gurock said the challenge required a team effort even though they were implementing small changes.
“This win is an acknowledgment of our team effort approach,” Gurock said. “We recognize our employees’ hard work.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s challenge was sponsored by Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, Nevins Insurance Agency, Inc., and Kinderhook Bank.