Establishing Workplace Policies

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Employees and customers can get information on being healthy when employers hold wellness day events.

Award recipients in CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program have found many innovative ways to help those in need of cancer screening get the tests they need. Below, we share highlights from some programs that worked with employers to educate their workers about cancer screening and allowed paid time off for the tests.

Changes in a Workplace in West Virginia Help Employees Get Screened

Pilgrim’s is a large poultry processing plant in West Virginia. Most of its employees are uninsured or underinsured and have no paid sick leave. Many of them don’t own a car and speak little English, making it hard for them to get health care.

In 2019, the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program worked with Pilgrim’s Strong Wellness Program and the county health department to provide these employees with screening education and patient navigation. They used existing resources and created new materials, trained Pilgrim’s staff to use the resources, and distributed small media messages in English and Spanish. Pilgrim’s adopted a leave policy to make it easier for employees to get screened and held events during all work shifts to educate employees and discuss individual challenges to cancer screening.

In the first year, 188 women received one-on-one education and 29 received patient navigation to screening. Fourteen women were screened for breast and/or cervical cancer. Several women received additional services during their cancer screening office visit. Four women were tested for other health problems, two got vaccinations, one enrolled in the family planning program, one received lung cancer screening, and one was referred to a surgical clinic due to a suspicious growth on her back.

Employer in Maine Starts Trend for Paid Leave Policy for Cancer Screenings

“I think it’s really important for an organization to show employees how much they care about their health and well-being. I kinda just hope [we] start a trend, and other employers start picking up on this.” – Employee at the credit union

Many employers are not aware that it is important to have policies that encourage workers to get screened for cancer. Some companies don’t let employees take time off from work for cancer screening tests. Employers also don’t have resources needed to start cancer-focused worksite wellness policies.

In 2015, the Maine Cancer Foundation launched Maine’s Impact Cancer Network. The purpose of the network is to bring agencies and organizations together as partners to find ways to reduce the number of people who get and die from cancer. Partners include the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program and Healthy Maine Works, a program that helps Maine employers develop worksite wellness programs. The Impact Cancer Network started the Employer Strategies Task Force, which helps Maine businesses improve their workers’ health. This task force develops resources for employers. Cancer prevention and control programs in Maine improved the resources the task force developed and increased the number of employers that used the resources in their health and wellness programs.

At a Maine Cancer Foundation meeting where an update on the Employer Strategies Task Force was given, a board member who is a CEO of a local credit union shared his story about preparing for a colonoscopy. His experience led him to allow his employees to take 16 hours of paid leave to get a colorectal cancer screening test, beginning in November 2018. His story inspired the Maine Cancer Foundation to create a similar paid leave policy in February 2019. The next month, the credit union updated their screening policy to include all necessary cancer screenings.

Your Boss Cares: Time Off for Mammograms in Puerto Rico

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Policies that grant paid time off for cancer screenings help employees get the medical care they need.

The Puerto Rico Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program used CDC’s Worksite Health ScoreCard to develop a needs assessment for employers in January 2019. The assessment helped the program evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s health promotion strategies. With this resource in hand, the program approached a small company, Myriad Benefits Incorporated, that agreed to the needs assessment.

Based on the needs assessment findings, in May 2019 the program talked to Myriad Benefits Incorporated about ways in which they could encourage healthy behaviors among their employees. The next month, the company agreed to grant up to four hours of paid leave for employees to get a mammogram and began promoting the smoking quit line. Myriad Benefits plans to complete a follow-up needs assessment next year to measure results and choose more health promotion policies to consider.

Walmart in Connecticut Helps Women Get Screening Services

The Connecticut Early Detection and Prevention Program wanted to connect women to cancer screening services and enroll those who were eligible in the program. In the spring of 2018, the program formed a partnership with Walmart stores located in areas that data showed needed services. The program worked with the Hartford Walmart’s Pharmacy Clinical Services Manager to match contracted health provider sites to the nearest Walmart store.

Community health navigators from three of those provider sites, St. Francis Hospital, Hartford Healthcare, and Eastern Connecticut Health Network, participated in two Walmart Wellness Days in Hartford and Manchester in September 2018. A total of 84 women were given cancer screening information and three were enrolled in the program.

Health navigators gave technical help and recommendations to improve the Walmart Wellness Days nationwide. They recommended placing advertisements in the parking lot and inside the store to increase interest in the event and giving out bright pink Program Passports to refer eligible women into the program. As follow-up, half of its provider sites participated in the next Wellness Day in April 2019, and the program plans to have a mammography van at future Walmart Wellness Days.