Park Place injects an
ounce of prevention

Apr 22, 2003 12:58 AM

BY MARK MAYER

The "sound mind, sound body" philosophy enticed Park Place Enterprises to ante up and become the first gaming company to offer employees a free wellness/health education program.

"Last year, Park Place sent out a proposal for medical insurance and a large part focused on wellness," said Jennifer Martinsen, education and wellness director at Sierra Health Services, a division of Health Plan of Nevada.

"Wellness can mean many things to many people," Martinsen said. "We define wellness in terms of a person’s overall health. We look at both preventing and managing diseases. Employees that know the risk factors by way of education can hopefully prevent health problems."

Gary Earl, vice president of benefits for Park Place, paved the way for company employees to voluntarily participate in the LifeStrides program, provided by Sierra Health.

"LifeStrides will provide both immediate and supportive access to information, tools and coaches that are crucial to the health and wellness of our employees," Earl said in a statement released by Park Place. "If employees want help managing their health challenges or simply want to know more about making healthy lifestyle choices, they will now have the knowledge and services of qualified health pros within their work environment."

LifeStrides was officially launched March 31 at both Flamingo Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Hilton. The program also began during April at other Park Place properties in Nevada, Mississippi, Indiana and New Jersey.

"There are 17 core programs involved," said Jenny DesVaux Oakes, assistant vice president of Sierra Health. "We are delighted to be working with the casino employees of Park Place. The work site environment is 24-7 no doubt, so it’s to the credit of Park Place to create the time for employees to take advantage of our classes."

DesVaux Oakes called the program, " a win-win situation for everyone."

Diabetes, one of 17 subjects in the program, is part of the free classes held over four weeks— each one for 90 minutes. The sessions can also be broken into 45-minute periods over eight weeks.

"Mr. Earl is looking at the overall health of his employees," Martinsen said. "When we see an obese person, we look at how they got that way. We find out if it was emotional or financial things in their life that caused weight problems. It’s not just seeing the physical problem."

DesVaux Oakes said that the LifeStrides programs work with chefs and dining rooms.

"Our focus is the promotion and maintenance of good health," she said. We assist employees in the management of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stress, weight control and smoking. We also deal with arthritis, asthma, cholesterol management, healthy pregnancy and back care."

Martinsen supported Earl’s desire regarding the importance of disease prevention and management of health concerns at Park Place.

"These are hard working employees in a fast-paced, sometimes stressful environment," Martinsen said. "Bringing health education to them may help prevent disease or manage an existing disease."