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PartnerSHIP 4 Health to help cut health care costs

Business owners, take note: Here's a way to save 25 percent on your health care costs by helping your employees stay healthy.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center will be hosting a free worksite wellness summit sponsored by PartnerSHIP 4 Health.

PartnerSHIP 4 Health is a regional initiative of the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), representing the counties of Becker, Clay, Otter Tail and Wilkin counties in northwest Minnesota.

The purpose of Tuesday's summit, according to PartnerSHIP 4 Health Project Manager Jason Bergstrand, is to help businesses and business owners to be more proactive about controlling health care costs.

"We know that four behaviors -- tobacco use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and harmful use of alcohol -- result in 80 percent of all chronic diseases," Bergstrand said.

"Making a healthy lifestyle change in these areas can reduce your health care costs by 25 percent," he added.

"These don't have to be big changes," added Ann Dolence, worksite wellness coordinator for Partnership 4 Health, and one of the scheduled speakers at the conference. "Even little changes can make a big difference."

For instance, Dolence noted, offering healthy snacks instead of doughnuts in the office break room is a fairly simple change that can be implemented without much difficulty.

Her presentation at the conference will focus on her experiences working with the SHIP Worksite Wellness Initiative, as well as some successful examples of changes in business health policy and worksite environment that have improved physical activity, nutrition, stress management, morale and productivity.

Other speakers at the summit will include Dr. David Hunnicutt, Linda M. Pellowski, Douglas V. Huseby, Marti Lundin, Julie Skow, Leslie Anderson, Laura Pearson, Tony Eggiman and Natasha Nodsle.

Dr. Hunnicutt is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of worksite wellness and health promotion, and Pellowski is a worksite wellness senior consultant with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Huseby is the founder of both Becker Furniture World and the Global Wellness Management Company, which offers an innovative corporate wellness program to reduce health care costs and maintain healthy lifestyle benefits.

Lundin is a program manager for the American Lung Association of Minnesota, while Anderson and Pearson, who will be presenting together, are co-coordinators for the Golden Start Breastfeeding Initiative, which serves nine counties in Minnesota.

Eggiman is a doctor of physical Therapy with experience in both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, and Skow is a registered dietition with the Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls.

Nodsle is the human resources manager for SJE Rhombus, which is one of the largest employers in the City of Detroit Lakes.

"This list of speakers is like something you might see at a national conference," said Dolence. "We are excited to be able to bring into our region such highly experienced experts in the field of worksite wellness."

But in addition to the speakers, the summit will also offer an opportunity for area business owners and employees to interact and share ideas about wellness programs -- what works, and what doesn't, she added.

"Employers are going to have an opportunity to really see how a worksite wellness program can be put together and how it can be made to work the most efficiently and bring the most benefit," Dolence said.

"Most employers offer health benefits, yet the only time the benefits are used is when there's an illness or disease," she continued.

One of the aims of the summit is to "encourage employers to really promote prevention... to put prevention on the front burner," she said.

Tuesday's summit will begin with registration at 8 a.m., and concludes at approximately 4 p.m. Lunch is also included -- and there is no cost for participating, Dolence noted.

"It's all free, no cost," she said. "You can still register through Monday."

For more information about the summit, visit For more information about the PartnerSHIP 4 Health, please visit or call Jason Bergstrand at 701-306-5280.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454