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Town’s wellness program sees success

There are 102 Town of Jonesborough employees who may be healthier because of a successful wellness program that offers not only basic health screenings and services, but also a human touch to healthcare in Tennessee’s oldest town.
Taking part in the program, which started in 2004, is not mandatory; however, more than 90 percent of town employees participate.
It costs the town approximately $18 per participant per month.
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe calls the program a “success story” and praises town administrative assistant Virginia Causey and wellness program nurse Terri Hurt for their efficient and effective administration of the program.
Causey, who admits she was skeptical of the program when it was first announced, now says she has seen it make a positive difference in the lives of the employees who participate.
“In the beginning, I was like a lot of other employees,” she said. “We had seen a lot of workman’s comp reports and those people had ended up losing their jobs. I thought this might be another way for the town to get private information about the employees that might lead to dismissals.”
Nothing, Causey says, could be further from the truth.
“Oh, there are still just a few who feel that way, but there are always some who are hesitant with anything,” Causey said. “But I’ve seen this program make a real difference for a lot of people.”
Causey said the program has helped in a variety of ways, from helping employees find a family doctor to monitoring employees’ blood pressures.
“And all of that is completely confidential,” Causey said.
Hurt, who is a registered nurse and a certified diabetes educator with Mountain States Health Alliance, has been working with Jonesborough’s program for the past five years.
A resident of the town, Hurt says working with its employees has been a “perfect fit.”
“The best part of working here is developing a relationship of trust with the town’s employees,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see them show confidence in me.”
That confidence, Hurt says, has made many employees feel comfortable enough to discuss more chronic health issues with her.
“They know I’m here for them and they’ve come to trust that,” Hurt said.
While Hurt regularly deals with blood pressure checks, blood sugar screening and questions about medications, she also fields a lot of questions from employees who need more information.
“Sometimes, employees come in who have just been to see their doctor, but they didn’t quite understand everything the physician said,” Hurt explained. “I get a lot of ‘after the doctor’s visit’ questions.”
Jonesborough Chief of Police Matthew Hawkins is a regular participant in the wellness program and an avid supporter.
“We operate in three-man platoons. If one person is sick, it creates a lot of problems,” he said. “We like to have them come in and identify any health problems they’re having and get them addressed as soon as possible.”
Other services provided by Hurt include administering random drug testing, Hepatitis vaccines and flu shots.