PDT Staff Writer
UnitedHealth Care is in the process of taking steps to help city employees progress toward wellness, with a series of screenings, to get a better profile of the health status of those employees. According to a series of e-mails, the city nearly dropped the ball, said First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson who responded to a memo sent out by City Clerk Tamara Nathan, notifying city employees of a wellness screening through UnitedHealth Care.
In a wellness document sent to city employees, Assistant Director of Engineering Crystal Weghorst said, “As most of you are aware, the City of Portsmouth in conjunction with UnitedHealth Care is conducting a wellness screening and a brief online survey that covered city employees can take advantage of and will be compensated for in the form of gift card(s) ($75 for the insured and $75 for covered spouse upon completion of the survey). This screening involves a finger stick and the participants will get results for their blood pressure, BMI total cholesterol and glucose. There are only a certain amount of time slots available for each screening event. I have listed the screening sites, times and contact information below. Please call and schedule an appointment at one of these locations.”
That schedule was: Municipal Building on June 29; Filtration Plant on July 9; Service Department on July 18; and Health Department on July 20. The problem, according to Johnson, is that Nathan had not sent that document until June 28, one day before the first scheduled screening. Nathan then attempted to send out notification the same day.
In her e-mail, Nathan wrote: “I apologize for the short notice, this was to be sent to you two weeks ago. As a participant of city insurance you are encouraged to attend. I have requested further information regarding the reward to the city for this, but have (not) yet received the information. However, 75% completion of each department is sought. You were pre-scheduled tomorrow at 2:45pm at the Municipal Building Council Chambers. This is a 15 minute process. You will receive printed result and instruction how to do the survey and claim your gift card. IF you cannot attend please let me know ASAP to allow other to use this time for their screening. Again I apologize for the short notice.”
The memo was dated June 28, 2012, with municipal building employees scheduled for June 29. Johnson fired off a memo to Portsmouth Mayor David Malone in response.
“I am not at all impressed with a kickoff process of an important program for our City where notice is being given other elected City officials that their only evident opportunity to participate is in less than 24 hours. This is unacceptably poor administrative planning, is an insult to the efforts by UnitedHealth Care, does not bode well for the Wellness Program and reinforces the City’s perceived and too often real inability to get any damn thing done right.”
As a result, Weghorst responded to Johnson’s email with an e-mail to City Council.
“I wanted to let you know that a week and a half ago, I tentatively put the four councilmen in a 2:45 time slot for the wellness screening. At that time, I mentioned it to Tamara and told her that I would be sending her information to forward to all of you. Upon scheduling employees from this building, I needed those time slots to ensure that those who wanted to participate in this building was scheduled for this location so I canceled the councilmen and scheduled others. I made rounds yesterday to remind the scheduled employees of their appointment and several of them canceled, I then again put your names back onto the schedule,” Weghorst said.
“When I initially took the councilmen off of the schedule, I did not inform Tamara of this. I do apologize for the break in communication. There are several other times and dates that are available if you should need to schedule at another time. Each location has its own contact person, I have listed the numbers that you can call to schedule. Thank you and have a good day.”
Johnson was complimentary of the work done by insurance provider Gary Duzan, and said UnitedHealth Care has taken a major step forward in promoting wellness among city employees.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.