For South Asian taxi drivers, it isn’t traffic that threatens their safety, it is the sedentary lifestyle – sitting all day, every day.
Studies have found that taxi drivers are highly susceptible to a number of health problems because of their sedentary lives spent sitting behind the wheel. Drivers are must often eat on the go, making fast food their easiest option. Few of them get any exercise whatsoever, and many often suffer from back, hip and leg pain from sitting in a car all day.
“This lack of exercise combined with an unhealthy diet leads to disproportionately high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure among taxi drivers,” says Latha Palaniappan, M.D., Internal Medicine physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
As part of PAMF’s cultural competency initiatives, Dr. Palaniappan and PAMF’s Cultural Competency Coordinator Edith Gamboa collaborated with Stanford’s student-led Screen Team on outreach to one of Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable communities—Mineta San Jose Airport taxi drivers. They were joined by other PAMF employees who volunteered on Saturday, May 18, to provide health screenings and wellness advice. Read More about PAMF & Stanford Project Offers Health Screenings, Wellness Advice to South Asian Taxi Drivers
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which is part of the Sutter Health network of care, and Marvell Technology Group, an international semi-conductor company, have launched a unique on-site wellness program at Marvell’s Santa Clara, California location to help make it easier for employees at the company to take care of their health at work.
“At Marvell, it’s a priority to help our employees achieve the best possible work/life balance,” says Alycia Osborne, senior benefits analyst at Marvell. “We know that healthy employees are happier and more productive at work.”
PAMF’s employer services team has been providing regular monthly lunchtime lectures to Marvell’s staff and has participated in the company’s health fairs as a vendor for the past three years. Developing a more structured wellness program – tailored to employees’ unique health needs – was the next, and most recent, step. To further develop this wellness program, PAMF collaborated with Sutter Health, which has established on-site wellness programs at employer sites throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.
“When we surveyed Marvell’s staff about their health history and habits, we found out that more than half the employees did not have a primary care doctor,” says Ronesh Sinha, M.D., medical director for PAMF’s Employer Services Program. “Many of the employees also have East or South Asian ethnicity, with a higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This was an excellent opportunity to help employees see the value of an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor and provide them with the benefit of our expertise in caring for an ethnically and culturally diverse group of patients.”
12-Week Wellness Evaluation Pilot Program
In September 2011, PAMF and Sutter Health collaborated to launch a 12-week Wellness Evaluation Pilot Program for Marvell. The program comprised three key components, all held on Marvell’s campus, making it easy for employees to participate at work:
Biometric screening: Nurses from an outside company visited Marvell and screened participating employees’ weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
PAMF’s online personal Health Risk Assessment (HRA): Employees recorded their biometric screening results, completed the HRA and printed a copy to take to their wellness evaluation for review.
40-minute appointment with a PAMF primary care doctor: Doctors reviewed each employee’s personal HRA, discussed the employee’s health goals, formulated a wellness plan and provided resources for long-term follow-up care. Read More about PAMF Launches Unique, On-Site Employee Wellness Program at Marvell
When it comes to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, South Asians are one of the highest risk groups, and they also die from heart disease at a much younger age. To ensure that South Asian patients can live longer, healthier lives, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) has created a South Asian Health Program that provides services and resources tailored to South Asian patients’ specific health needs.
When PAMF rheumatologist Brent Culver, M.D., heard about the annual six-mile Wharf-to-Wharf run in Santa Cruz, he saw it as a great opportunity to encourage some of his patients to overcome their health obstacles to participate in the annual fun run.
Dr. Culver worked to get the word out about the race among his patients, other doctors and staff. As a result, several patients, doctors and Palo Alto Medical Foundation staff were among the 15,000 runners taking on the challenge of the Wharf-to-Wharf Race this past weekend.
Overcoming all obstacles
“Seven of our patients participated in the run, ranging from patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis to one patient on dialysis,” Dr. Culver said. “Some of them never thought they would be able to do it. It was a very motivating experience for everyone.”
Everyone on the team ran, or walked, at their own pace. The group gathered at the finish line to encourage and congratulate each other as they finished.
“One of the patients I was most proud of is a young woman who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 14,” Dr. Culver said. “She hasn’t let that health obstacle get in her way at all. In fact, she was recently accepted at a Division I university in their track and field program.”
Douglas Hetzler, M.D. , of the PAMF Santa Cruz Department of Otolaryngology, presented the awards to the race winners. Belainesh Gebre was the top woman finisher, completing the race in 30 minutes and 45 seconds, and Shadrack Kosgei was the first man across the finish line at a time of 27 minutes and one second.
What happens when a workforce collaborates with a team of doctors to focus on preventive health and weight loss? Workers lose weight, improve their cholesterol and blood pressure levels and workplace injuries decrease. This was the outcome of an innovative workplace wellness program created by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for Graniterock, a Watsonville-based construction materials and services company.
When Henry Thai, M.D., an internal medicine doctor at PAMF’s Palo Alto Center, first met Bruce Woolpert, CEO of the Graniterock construction supply company in Watsonville, Woolpert was overweight and faced hypertension. By working with Dr. Thai and making small tweaks to his diet and lifestyle, Woolpert lost 40 pounds and normalized his blood pressure. Woolpert was so inspired that he decided he wanted all of his team members to have access to the same care.
“For companies like Graniterock, investing in preventive medicine, such as a weight loss and exercise program, is both socially responsible and important in reducing health care and workers compensation costs,” says Dr. Thai.
To replicate Woolpert’s experience, PAMF launched the “(Healthy)me: Healthy to the Power of Me” employee wellness program. Dr. Thai created an educational booklet for Graniterock about weight management, exercise and a healthy diet. He also recruited six doctors from PAMF to provide on-site care at Graniterock locations in the Bay Area. The pilot program began in June 2008 and ran for six months. Due to the great success of the program, Graniterock committed to extending the program in 2009. Today, PAMF remains involved with Graniterock employee wellness and provides weekly health tips to the employee newsletter to help employees stay on track with their wellness goals. Read More about Employee Wellness Works