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April 22, 2014 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 5B

.oleman's legacy
>f building Blue
The buildings marked in red indicate ones that University President Mary
Sue Coleman helped renovate during her presidency.

Coleman steered
MHealthy launch

Program inspires
faculty to stay
active, fit while
working on campus
Daily Staff Reporter
In 2005, University President
Mary Sue Coleman implemented
MHealthy, an iniatitve aimed
to promote healthy living in the
University community. Last year,
26,000 University employees par-
ticipated in MHealthy programs, a
testament to support the program's
success on campus.
Sitting on the board of Johnson
& Johnson, which has been rec-
ognized as a leader in employee
wellness efforts, Coleman drew
inspiration from the organization's
MHealthy aims to reduce the
rising costs of health care for the
University. These healthcare costs
are increasing at a rate of 10 to 12
percent annually, an amount the
MHealthy Five-Year plan refers to
as "economically unsustainable."
UHS Director Robert Winfield, the
University's chief health officer,
said MHealthy looks to stop this
"Eventually, it would be almost
7 percent of our total University
budget," Winfield said. "Our goal
is to flatten that curve so that we
don't have these continual annual
To implement MHealthy, Cole-
man appointed ateam- The Mich-
igan Healthy Community Steering
Committee - to study what the
University needed in a wellness
initiative, and write up a plan.
LaVaughn Palma-Davis, senior
director of University Health &
Well-Being Services, said the team
formed a strategy by studying
national wellness leaders like John-
son & Johnson.
"We looked-at who were the
og lizations across the country
ivho were doing really well at this
and getting results," Palma-Davis
said. "We used that best practice
information as well as information
that was in the literature to identify
what were the key components that
we needed to put in place here to be
successful like they were."
In an October 2011 address,
Coleman praised those who had
participated in the MHealthy pro-
"So many individuals are now
pushing themselves and pushing
their colleagues to lead healthier
lives." Coleman said. "We're mov-
ing in the right direction, which
makes for healthier employees and
lower healthcare costs."
The committee put together the
MHealthy Five-Year Strategic Plan
that would last from 2009 to 2013.
Finally, they sent outa risk assess-
ment survey to better understand
the health risks University faculty
"It's an online questionnaire that
helps people to understand what

health risksotheyhave and how that
might impact their health going
forward, and encourages them to
work on them," Palma-Davis said.
health costs as high as theyare, any
help MHealthy programs can pro-
vide will be extremely beneficial.
"It's around $360 million per
year that we spend on health insur-
ance costs for our faculty and staff,"
Palma Davis said. "Ifwe can impact
thateven one percent,it'sworth it."
MHealthy attempts to decrease
health risk levels to impact care
costs. The program defines health
risks as any conditions or behav-
iors that would harm one's health,
such as obesity, stress, unhealthy
eating, smoking or lack of exercise.
MHealthy classifies participants as
low, medium or high risk based on
their responses to an annual risk
Winfield said there is a correla-
tion between a patient's risk level
and their health expenses, along
with their ability to perform their
well in jobs.
"The health risks determine
absenteeism and health care
costs," Winfield said. "If you are
high risk, your health care costs
are going to be higher, and we
also know that you are going to be
absent from work more often."
The full results of MHealthy
will not be determined until later
this year, but Palma-Davis said it
is clear risk levels have decreased
since MHealthy began. More peo-
ple are in the low risk level column
than previously, and fewer people
are in the moderate and high-risk
level columns.
MHealthy adopted a variety
of programs to reduce risk fac-
tors among University employees.
Since MHealthy's launch in 2009,
employees have been offered free
wellness screenings. These screen-
ings test blood pressure, cholester-
ol, weight measurements, glucose
measurements and other factors.
Combined with the risk assessment
survey, these screenings allow
MHealthy to givuniquefeedback
to patients on what they need to be
doing to maintain or improve theit
MHealthy Rewards gives
employees an incentive to follow
MHealthy's recommendations.
People are invited to choose what
health improvements they wish to
make, and if they follow through on
these improvements, they can get
$100 added to their paycheck at the
end of the year.
"That's just another added little
incentive to move some people,"
Palma-Davis said.
One of the most successful ini-
tiatives of MHealthy is Active U,
a 12-week challenge that invites
University faculty and staff to
keep track of their daily physical
activity. The program has a Maize
Track, which requires 30 minutes
of activity three days a week, and a
Blue Track, which is geared toward
"We do see that people who par-
ticipate are increasing their days
and their minutes of physical activ-
ity," Palma-Davis said. "We have

gotten testimonials from people
saying how much it helps them
keep on track with their physical
Palma-Davis said MHealthy
aims not only to get individuals to
increasetheirhealth,but tocreate a
healthy University culture. Palma-
Davis said the support of colleagues
is one thing that helps people to
maintain fitness.
"My colleagues, they keep me
going," Palma-Davis said. "They
truly do help encourage each
other, and it's fun. It does impact
the culture."
In 2009, a few years after
MHealthy's inception, Winfield
asked Coleman to end smoking on
"It's the right thing to do, it's
good for our students, it's good for
our faculty and staff, you know
that it would reduce health care
costs," Winfield said. "She was
very supportive, and you now
know we have a smoke-free cam-
In addition to making positive
contributions in Ann Arbor, Cole-
man intended for MHealthy to
be a model wellness program for
other universities.
"She called for us to demon-
strate to the nation what can be
accomplished," Palma-Davis said.
"That then put the emphasis on
making sure we were doing what
was makinga difference."
And this goal may be achieved.
The University is a leader with-
in the Health Enhancement
Research Organization,a nation-
al wellness group that conducts
research and proposes health
objectives based on evidence col-
lected from partner organizations.
A growing number of institu-
tions are looking to implement
wellness programs similar to
MHealthy. Palma-Davis said
schools are looking to the Uni-
versity for advice on how to do
In addition to an annual HERO
meeting, the University holds its
.awnhealth conference that brings
together over 30 universities. The
University invites schools includ-
ing The Ohio State University,
Iowa University, Emory Univer-
sity, Michigan State University,
University of Alabama, University
of Kentucky and Columbia Uni-
"It's actually an exciting time
because we're getting calls every
other week from other universi-
ties who have heard about what
we're doing and they want to
learn from us because they're get-
ting started," Palma Davis said.
"There's definitely a movement
among universities to implement
programs like this."
The University may be a model
for other schools, but Palma-Davis
said Coleman is the model for our
University, as she lives the lifestyle
she wants for our University.
"She's very active, and her hus-
band is too." Palma Davis said.
"She's been a great role model for
all of us."


dwindling state funding,'U'
ned financial stability

Serliq Inn elrlsr froer 70 earn

took office, the Michigan
government began cut-
funding for public univer-
s in light of an economic
nturn caused by challeng-
the auto industry.
ter years of budget cuts
he state, funding took a
sive hit in 2012 when the
ral government's stimulus
opriation ceased, result-
in a 15 percent reduction
tate university funding
its original budget of
2002, state appropria-
s accounted for 34 percent
eneral Fund revenues, but
013, they accounted for
16 percent of the funding
these times of economic

hardships within the state and
federal governments, Cole-
man made consistent efforts
to lobby legislatures to keep
funding higher education,
Cynthia Wilbanks, vice presi-
dent for government relations,
Coleman, along with other
Big Ten university presidents,
petitioned policymakers to
keep funding universities as
a priority on the premise that
college graduates will help fill
vacant jobs and improve the
economy in the long run.
"She made trips to Lansing
every single spring to talk
about the University, to talk
about the need for investment,
to make the case that case that
every sector of society needed

to do its part to make sure it
was spending wisely," Wil-
banks said.
. In 2011, for instance, Cole-
man wrote an open letter to
President Barack Obama urg-
ing not only the state and
federal governments to main-
tain their support for higher
education, but all sectors of
society, including business
leaders, philanthropists and
parents, to collaborate to keep
college affordable.
"As a former college profes-
sor, you know the rewards of
seeing students grow intellec-
tually, exercise critical think-
ing, and begin to shape their
communities," she said in the
letter. "This transformative
experience of higher learn-

ing contributes to the overall
wellbeing of our nation."
True to her word, Coleman
reached out to other areas in
search of funds for the Uni-
versity, including private
As the state economy began
to recover, state support for
the University has risen mod-
estly. This year, Republican
Gov. Rick Snyder increased
university funding by 6.1 per-
cent, the largest percentage
increase in over a decade. As
government funding increas-
es, Coleman's efforts to col-
laborate with private donors
will provide a solid founda-
tion for years to come.

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