STEUBENVILLE - Statistics show that each year the overall health of Ohio Valley residents is declining, but Trinity Health System is organizing a response with the goal of reversing that trend.
In 2013, Ohio ranked 40th, and West Virginia ranked 46th in the nation for health. According to County Health Rankings and Roadmap's 2014 report, Jefferson County ranked 80th in the state, and Harrison County ranked 71st out of Ohio's 88 counties. In West Virginia, Hancock County ranked 15th, and Brooke County ranked 22nd out of the state's 55 counties.
Trinity's new initiative is called the Trinity Health Zone. It's a free program for all upper Ohio Valley communities, businesses and educational institutions, and its goal is to promote wellness and encourage healthy behaviors.
PROGRAM?INTRODUCED — Introducing Trinity Health System’s Health Zone initiative at a press conference Monday were, from left, Dave Harrison, general manager of WCDK-FM and WEIR-AM; Lisa Marino, Trinity director of work care; Keith Murdock, Trinity director of community relations and development; Erin Menzel, Trinity wellness coordinator; and Danielle Ulam, Trinity chief clinical dietician. -- Shae Dalrymple
"The program is meant to bring a sense of wellness to the entire community," Keith Murdock, Trinity director of community relations and development, explained at a press conference Monday. "The idea behind it is to make the awareness in our community so great that wellness will improve along with it. We're asking for folks to get involved by sending us an application. We hope it grows rapidly."
Businesses, schools or communities that apply will receive a Trinity Health Zone logo sticker to display.
"We will begin to work with these groups in a way that will improve wellness, whether it's offering our wellness staff to them or providing programs and a lot of other free information," Murdock said.
Erin Menzel, Trinity wellness coordinator, said that the program focuses mainly on workplace wellness.
"It's very important to have a culture of wellness at your business, because that's where your employees spend a majority of their day. They're there eight to nine hours a day. If you can create a culture of wellness there, it will not only increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, but it will also make your employees healthier and happier with better mental well-being and physical well-being," Menzel said.
According to Lisa Marino, Trinity director of work care, workplace wellness initiatives are nothing new to Trinity.
"We have more than 1,700 client companies now that we work with," Marino said. "We're also looking at stress management and injury management along with overall wellness."
Jim Emmerling, owner and president of Em-Media, encouraged media organizations to get involved with promoting the new program.
"I'd like to see us recognize those businesses that participate. They deserve recognition for helping their employees and staff," Emmerling said.
Several local media outlets are already on board, including WCDK-FM and WTRF-TV.
Dave Harrison, general manager of WCDK-FM and WEIR-AM, said the program will be fun for those who participate.
"It can include everything that ties in with local health 5K runs, health fairs all of the aspects of getting us into the zone as a community, together," Harrison said. "Instead of competing against each other, we can get the community together and combat the problem collectively. We can have fun while we do it."
"Anyone in the Tri-State Area is welcome to participate, and we hope that they do," Murdock added. "We have a lot of work in front of us, and the statistics are against us. But we feel that the rewards will be great, and we will have a healthier, happier population when it's all said and done."
Information and applications are available at www.trinityhealthzone.com.