Some News Stories Come In Small Bites

OLIVIA — Some news stories come in small bites, and don’t always see the light of day as a result.

One such case is an on-going health initiative in Renville County aimed at county employees.

Some aspects of the effort have gotten attention, such as a tobacco cessation program that included a decision to ban smoking from county property.

But other aspects of the campaign don’t always merit a news story on their own, but taken as a whole do tell an important story.

That’s the case here, where many of the changes are subtle. One is an on-going effort to replace sugar- and fat-laced foods with fresh, healthy options when treats are offered at meetings and events. Slowly but surely, fresh fruit and veggies are replacing doughnuts as offerings at meetings.

Best news of all: The healthy options are being well received.

More recently, County Recorder Gail Miller informed the county board of commissioners that the county’s participation in the wellness campaign has led to its selection for a pilot program through health insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield. Employees will be offered a $200 “carrot’’ to participate in a voluntary, and confidential health assessment. In return for answering questions to assess their health, they will receive $200 that can be applied to their 2012 medical premium or as a deposit in their health savings account.

The participating employees will be asked to answer questions and communicate with their health care provider to obtain information such as their blood pressure, blood cholesterol and similar information. The information will help in determining what health resources will be most useful for employees.

It’s one thing to encourage people to make healthy choices by providing information on the benefits of exercise and nutritional foods or the dangers of smoking. But nothing works like money.  As for the $200 carrot being offered, Miller told the board of commissioners that the sponsors of the program know that people become engaged in healthy choices when money is involved.