CBHEC trains law enforcement to be ‘Healthy Heroes’
A South Texas law enforcement group is taking the proverb “lead by example” to heart, serving as role models to a community once deemed the nation’s fattest city by Men’s Health magazine.
In partnership with the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Coastal Bend Health Education Center, the Corpus Christi Police Department kicked off its “Healthy Heroes” program in January with the goal of improving the health of the department’s officers and support staff.
Featuring fun and innovative lessons in living a healthier lifestyle, the yearlong program is comprised of nutritional information, exercise demonstrations and stress management tools. Most importantly, it gives participants access to one-on-one health consultations with the TAMHSC-Coastal Bend Health Education Center’s registered nurses and registered, licensed dietitian.
“Ideally, Corpus Christi’s police department employees will have opportunities and information to make healthier choices,” says Commander Adele “Heidi” Frese, Support Services Division Wellness Committee chair for the Corpus Christi Police Department. “In every industry, healthy employees are happier, more productive, miss less work and sustain fewer injuries.”
In addition, all police department employees receive for free a total cholesterol plus glucose screening, weight/BMI (body mass index) assessment, and body fat percentage and blood pressure reading, the results of which are recorded and tracked throughout the program.
“The ‘Healthy Heroes’ program began with 82 participants and crossed the six-month mark with over 120,” says Delia Martinez, interim coordinator of the TAMHSC-Coastal Bend Health Education Center Diabetes Education Program. “We are seeing results, and I believe the participants’ co-workers are seeing those results as well.”
Not all health improvements, though, are visible to the naked eye.
“While most of the group’s cholesterol and blood sugars came back fine, 51 percent of the initial participants exhibited borderline blood pressures, and another 31 percent had numbers in the high range,” Martinez says. “Obviously, this is a high-stress job, and we knew this was an area we needed to offer our assistance. Of those returning for their three-month follow up, 66 percent saw a reduction in their blood pressure.”
Following the example set by the Corpus Christi Police Department, the city’s fire department then reached out to the TAMHSC-Coastal Bend Health Education Center.
“The fire department actually sent someone out to film our four-part diabetes self-management classes,” Martinez says. “The materials in these classes address nutrition, physical activity and medication management, lessons that are relevant to everyone.”
The fire department posted the videos to its intranet and put out a memo making it mandatory for all employees to view the series. To help track their progress, employees also are offered the same screenings and one-on-one health consultations that the police department is receiving.
“This program started out with a goal of being a yearlong initiative; however, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong process,” Martinez says. “It is my desire to extend on into the next year and beyond. We want to continue the progress seen by our current participants and allow others to join along the way.”
More about the program is available at http://www.caller.com/news/2011/jan/10/police-department-kicks-off-new-fitness-program/