By Tiffany Schmidt
Promoting employee health has become more than simply offering benefits. Investing in employees through wellness programs is a growing movement within the business sector. Boone Hospital Center’s corporate wellness program works to partner with businesses within the Columbia area to provide nutritional and fitness training and support for their employees.
For over 20 years, Boone Electric Cooperative has participated in Boone Hospital’s wellness initiatives, including a health fair held every October. The health fair is mobile and held on campus, so that employees are able to stop by throughout the workday at a time that is convenient with their workflow.
Boone Electric Cooperative pairs the fair with an incentive program to encourage fitness and wellness in employees. Employees are offered the options for flu shots, lab draws, blood pressure and body composition measurements, and fitness and mental health training. Blood work is also offered, testing for cholesterol, prostate specific antigen (PSA) numbers, or thyroid numbers.
Chris Rolfing spent just over 32 years with Boone Electric. For Chris, the health fair was an opportunity to provide insight into his general health. He was especially interested in tracking his PSA levels, as his father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
PSA is an antigen produced by the prostate gland. While all men, especially those advancing in age, will have some level of PSA, rising levels can be an early detector of prostate cancer. “I may be a little overcautious, but every year I would write down my level and keep track of any changes,” says Chris. “I counted on Boone Hospital to give me a PSA level, and I would simply look for a change.”
In 2016, Chris’ PSA levels went from 3.78 to 5.07 ng/mL - slightly higher than the safe range, but not alarmingly high. While there is no specific “normal” PSA level, generally a level of 4.0 ng/mL is considered safe. Some men have higher levels than others naturally, however, Chris’ numbers were moving up quickly.
When Chris brought his tracked levels to his doctor’s attention, his doctor recommended a biopsy, and Chris discovered that he did in fact have prostate cancer. Luckily, because of the early detection due to Chris’ PSA tracking, the cancer had not spread from the prostate.
By January 2018, after a radical prostatectomy, Chris now has PSA levels that range right at 0 ng/mL. “PSA is just one test that may give a little insight into your body’s functions,” says Chris. “I probably wouldn’t have noticed a change without the Boone Hospital program.”
Though the health fairs that Boone Hospital offers are not substitutes for an annual physical, Chris encourages everyone to take advantage of the tests. “If this program is a part of your job, take advantage of it, and note any changes in numbers,” he says. “The change in the numbers were my red flag.”