Shwellthy and Wise

Sheetz’s wellness center proves its ability to keep employees healthy

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

About half of Sheetz employees say they have used the fitness center at the Center for Schwellness.

The multimillion-dollar investment Sheetz Inc. made in its new wellness centers pretty much paid for itself in one Friday afternoon.

That’s when an ailing employee walked into the retailer’s Center for Shwellness in Claysburg, Pa., after not feeling well—and went into cardiac arrest.

“Our clinicians were there and they quickly assessed her, and she didn’t have a pulse,” says Bill Young, director of compensation, benefits and risk.

After shocking the employee with a defibrillator, the health team brought back her pulse and gave her CPR for the next 20 minutes until an ambulance arrived. Turns out the employee had severe blockages in her arteries, which were taken care of later at the hospital. Now the employee is back to work at Sheetz full time.

While this may be the most dramatic example of an immeasurable return on investment for the health facilities, it’s not the only one.

“We’ve had multiple ones, where people came in and thought they were relatively healthy, and found out   they had … cholesterol issues, high blood pressure,” says Young. Health-center staff members have been able to reveal the problems and also help employees get on a road to recovery, get off medications and change their lives.

Sheetz opened the 12,000-square-foot Center for Shwellness in 2012, and it has a smaller satellite health and fitness center at its Altoona corporate office. A second satellite location is under construction at Sheetz’s new distribution center in Burlington, N.C., and is due to open this fall.

The centers offer free urgent and preventive care, prescription medication, fitness classes and dietary counseling to all Sheetz employees, free of charge. Spouses and dependents 6 years and older who are included in the employee’s health benefits also can use the center.

By the Numbers

About a year since their openings, the facilities have already racked up some impressive stats. They include more than:

▶ 2,100 office visits.

▶ 550 employees identified with “elevated” health conditions.

▶ 380 flu shots.

▶ 375 fitness classes conducted.

So far, nearly 48% of eligible employees have had a full biometric health screening; Sheetz’s goal is 80%. “We’ve had quite a few people who had readings that were higher than normal due to blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Young. “Those folks made pretty substantial progress bringing those ratings down toward normal levels as well.”

The health clinic at the Center for Shwellness is staffed by two full-time nurse practitioners, a registered  nurse, certified dietitian and medical assistant. Sheetz is planning to hire a full-time exercise physiologist and physical therapist, along with a mental-health professional.

In terms of the health and wellness facilities’ effect on Sheetz’s health-care costs, productivity, number of sick days and other metrics, Young says the company wants to build up about two years’ worth of data before it begins seriously crunching numbers.

Employee response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“If we decided to get rid of it, we would have a little revolt on our hands,” says Young. Indeed, an internal survey showed that nearly 70% of these employees had used the health services at the Shwellness center since its opening, and nearly 90% rated their overall experience as “excellent” or “good.” Another 89% said they valued the added benefit. About half had used the fitness center.

While the center is open to all Sheetz employees, all Sheetz employees are not necessarily able to access the center, especially if they work in a store in another area. To this end, Sheetz has developed videos on healthy eating and nutrition, available to watch on an employee portal; and it offers teleconferencing, which employees can use to get advice from a nutritionist or health coach. Sheetz is also exploring the idea of creating mobile health units that can offer services to staff at stores.