News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at

Employee Wellness Forum for business professionals planned for May 16 in Bay Harbor

(May 6, 2008) For every dollar business owners invest in employee wellness programs, they can expect to save $10 in costs like decreased sick days and increased productivity, according to Jean McDonough, Community Health Education Coordinator at Charlevoix Area Hospital. Shawn Hall, President Elect of the Northern Michigan Society of Human Resource Managers and Human Resources Manager at St. Mary’s Cement Company in Charlevoix agrees, and says financial savings is not the only reason companies should consider wellness programs for their employees. “At St. Mary’s, we’ve seen employee enthusiasm for participating in our employee wellness program,” she said. “An employee wellness program is an excellent strategy for improving the bottom line—but it is a new concept for many businesses.”

Northern Michigan Society of Human Resources Managers, in conjunction with Charlevoix Area Hospital and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, are sponsoring an Employee Wellness Forum for business owners and managers who want to learn more about the benefits of employee wellness programs. “We’ll be discussing easy, inexpensive ways to get started and the wellness services available for businesses that are ready for a more comprehensive employee program,” said Erika Shankland, Family and Community Health Supervisor who is responsible for wellness activities for the Health Department.

“Worksite Wellness as a Business Strategy” Forum will be held Friday, May 16, 2008, 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM at the Inn at Bay Harbor. All are welcome to attend, especially chief executive officers, business owners and managers, and human resource managers. There is no charge; registration is required.

Marilyn Litka-Klein, Senior Director for Health Finance from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association will present “Through the Looking Glass: A Different Path to Improve Employee Health” at the forum, followed by a panel discussion highlighting local resources for improving employee wellness. The panel consists of representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Charlevoix Area Hospital, and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. Also included on the panel are representatives from Manthei, Inc. and Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, who have had successful worksite wellness programs in place for several years.

Litka-Klein has an extensive background in health policy related to major Michigan payors such as Blue Cross, Medicare, and Medicaid, including health care funding, contracting, wage index, and claims processing.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information and to register, call Erika Shankland at 347-5832 or email her at