By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Representatives from St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, at the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce luncheon last month, gave an overview of BayCare Health System services designed to keep employees on track with their health.
In line with the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the call to be attentive to personal health needs was sounded as well. Indeed, the early bird catches the worm, if what one wisely wants is to catch a disease early in its tracks, according to Donna St. Louis, BayCare’s vice president of business development.
“We really want to stress to men that they need to get a colonoscopy,” St. Louis said, noting that for women, it’s the annual mammogram that ranks high as well. “It’s so important, because we can prevent colon cancer. If you can get a polyp before it starts to grow, you can be cured of that disease.”
By example, these diseases speak to the efficacy of physical exams to prevent a litany of issues stemming from a variety of conditions, including hypertension and diabetes.
“That’s really my passion for the community, for our team to get out and see people where they are, to educate them on current disease states and get them plugged in [with the care] they need,” St. Louis said.
Toward that end, Jason Barnett, involved with business development and employer engagement, spoke about the BayCare blanket of services, which involves more than its 16 hospitals throughout Tampa Bay, including St. Joseph’s Hospital-South off Big Bend Road in Riverview.
BayCare’s 21 urgent care centers, for example, include three centers dedicated to providing occupational medicine services.
“If you own businesses or are leaders in organizations, hiring and onboarding people,” these centers offer such things as pre-employment physicals, drug testing, alcohol screenings and regulatory exams, Barnett said. “Whenever you have an injury that happens at work, we have specialists who can assess, provide treatment and make referrals if necessary.”
Also available, the BayCare employee assistance program (EAP), which attends to mental health needs.
“Right now, in this country, mental health services are in very high demand and very short supply,” Barnett said. “One of the advantages of having a local EAP program like BayCare’s, is that not only do we have a large network of more than 500 licensed therapists in the state of Florida; it’s also a local network.”
Too often when someone is in crisis, “appointments are two, three, four, five weeks out to be seen by a therapist or even a psychologist,” Barnett said. “With our connections, our relationships with local providers, we’re able to lessen that to under a week, sometimes a couple days and, sometimes, even within a critical 24-hour notice.”
BayCare’s behavioral health teams provide education, training and a leadership development program for “key individuals in your organization that you’d like to help grow in their careers,” Barnett said. Moreover, the mental health first aid program includes an eight-hour certification course, “where we train key individuals in your organization to give them the tools to be able to help your other employees if they’re going through an episode while on the job,” Barnett said.
He noted a business that lost a team member in a car accident over the weekend. “BayCare had counselors on site Monday morning to be able to help people through that grief process,” Barnett said.
Barnett turned his attention to the corporate wellness division, focused on “keeping your employees out of our hospitals,” Barnett said.
“Sorry, Patrick, we’re going to keep some business away from you,” he added, in a lighthearted moment directed to Patrick Downes, also in attendance at the Riverview chamber luncheon. Downes is the newly named president of St. Joseph’s Hospital-South. He succeeds Phil Minden, now the president of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, the flagship of St. Joseph’s Hospitals.
In addition to its corporate mammogram program, which allows for businesses to schedule a day at outpatient imaging centers just for a business’s employees, the program can put a registered dietician onsite, provide online physician lectures, provide flu vaccinations and send a team onsite to conduct biometric screenings, among other services.
Also a key business service, BayCare2You is a mobile clinic that “essentially is a physician office on wheels,” Barnett said.
“We know that 52 percent of commercially insured individuals get an annual visit with their doctor,” Barnett said. “That means half of your employees in any given workforce aren’t getting those annual screenings, and the annual lab work that might detect an underlying condition that, if caught early, has a much better outcome.”
Case in point, the colonoscopy St. Louis talked about in her remarks, which she said people should not stress over. “It used to be so uncomfortable, but it’s the greatest sleep you’ll ever have,” St. Louis said. “The only bad part is the day before, and now it’s not that bad because there’s so many new preps, and it’s really easy.”