Newswise — The American Heart Association (AHA) awarded Harris Health System its first-ever Gold level Workplace Health Achievement for creating and implementing successful health programs for employees in the workplace. This award echoes AHA’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Chronic disease prevention and the promotion of optimal health are essential to improving the health and productivity of the U.S. workforce. According to AHA, positively influencing the workforce can have a significant impact on the estimated 155 million working adults.

Michele Hunnicutt, program director, Employee Wellness, Harris Health, is excited and grateful for the organization’s recognition.

“This award validates that Harris Health is using the best science-based practices to evaluate the overall quality and comprehensiveness of our workplace wellness programs,” Hunnicutt says. “It’s critical we continue to provide results-driven programs and resources that benefit our employees and organization.”

Employers use a list of practices defined by AHA to build a system of wellness in the workplace. Their achievement index measures the extent that a company has implemented these practices. Companies recognized at the Gold level achieved an index score of 175 to a maximum of 217.

Successful programs such as employee wellness are multidimensional. Hunnicutt identified components that make Harris Health’s program effective such as diverse activities, motivated employees, wellness challenges, spousal inclusion and effective evaluation.

“The distinction is confirmation that Harris Health is committed to applying evidence-based, best-practice approaches to improve our employees’ overall health and well-being,” Hunnicutt says. “It’s imperative we practice what we preach in terms of wellness, preventive care and lifestyle management.  It’s our obligation to lead by example and contribute to a healthy and thriving community.”

Dr. Ericka Brown, chief operating officer, Harris Health, is proud the organization has received this award and says that improving the community’s healthcare starts within the organization.

“Harris Health System is committed to its patients, its family and its home,” Brown says. “Winning this award is evidence of that commitment and validates that we are on the right track. Engaging in our employee’s health and wellness will only contribute to positive outcomes in the community we serve as our employees can now be role models for our patients regarding the importance of taking responsibility for one’s health.”