Metro Business Encourages Health and Wellness

Tuesday, February 3rd 2009, 7:30 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Despite the sluggish economy a local business is trying to cut down the cost of healthcare for its employees. They're doing it by actually spending money to help their employees live a healthy lifestyle.

Joe McIntire, 61, has been working, making parts for oil companies at Kimray for more than 30 years. But physical fitness has never been part of his job until now. When he gets a break, he and several other employees hit the streets taking their first steps on the path to fitness.

"Well, I was overweight," McIntire said. "My doctor said I needed to lose weight to get my blood pressure and cholesterol down."

Recently the employees started a walking challenge. They've been at it for two weeks and already McIntire said he's noticed a difference in his health.

"Yes, I can walk a lot farther and I've lost about nine pounds of weight," McIntire said.

They do this a few times a day, and it's back to work.

McIntire and his co-workers aren't doing this alone. Last year the company hired Michael O'Rourke as a wellness coordinator to keep everybody on track, and save the company money in the long run.

"Helping people prevent major diseases, helping them live healthier so that we never really have to deal with that $100,000 heart attack," O'Rourke said.

In addition to the walking, the company has started a Weight Watchers program at work. Employees are being encouraged to join gyms. They are attending health fairs.

The company has about 500 employees and more than half of them are taking part in the wellness program.

O'Rourke said it will take some time before everyone starts seeing the results they want.

"Over time we'll see some serious results over the next couple of years in relation to our healthcare costs and also employee attendance," O'Rourke said.

McIntire is an example for the others and walking is only the beginning for him.

"My goal is to lose 50 pounds," McIntire said.

Kimray even pays 40 percent of their employees' gym memberships, and fees to Weight Watchers as an incentive to get fit.