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February 15, 2013

Amesbury wins employee health award

AMESBURY — Amesbury was recently honored for its efforts to promote health and wellness among city employees over the past year, earning two awards from the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association at the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference this month.

One of the awards was a Wellness Award recognizing the city’s efforts to help its employees live healthier lives and teach them how to better utilize their health insurance, and the other was a Loss Prevention award honoring the city’s efforts to curtail liability.

Mayor Thatcher Kezer said the two awards reflected the success of the city’s Well Power program, as well as its ability to keep health care and liability costs down. Amesbury became the first community in Massachusetts to participate in the Well Power program in 2010, and so far the three-year program has paid major dividends, Kezer said.

“What we’ve done is we’ve been able to hold our costs or drive down our costs of insurance because of these initiatives and these programs,” Kezer said. “On the health side, I had a statistic that our emergency room utilization was down 14 percent, but (the MIIA) said it was like 17 percent.”

Emergency room utilization refers to the number of visits that city employees take to the emergency room. Kezer said the default response when a city employee is injured or not feeling well is to send them to the hospital, but under the Well Power program, employees are given access to tools to stay healthy and to on-call medical professionals for advice.

Specifically, the Well Power program provides personal health assessments, educational sessions, exercise, nutrition, stress-reduction and weight-loss programs and access to on-site, online and telephonic support. The program is provided by MIIA at no additional cost to the city or the employees.

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