Morehouse General Hospital has been working over the past year to improve the quality of life for its employees.

This effort is thanks to a one year health and wellness grant awarded to the hospital by the Delta Regional Authority. The grant is through the DRA's Healthy Delta Initiative, which provides a one-time supplemental funding for the hospital to conduct a Healthy Workforce Challenge pilot program over the course of a year.

Funding for these types of programs is through a collaboration that leverages DRA HDI investments with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant has helped the hospital to promote healthy lifestyle changes for their employees such as

offering healthier food options in the cafeteria, asking for the vending machines to stock healthier options and offering incentives for employees making healthier choices. Some of the food changes in the cafeteria include adding spinach to the salad bar, adding a wheat bread option and adding Greek yogurt to the breakfast menu.

MGH Director of Marketing Debbie Beaver said that out of 350 employees at the hospital, 147 participated in the program which is currently in its last phase.

According to a 2008 survey by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 35.1 percent of adults in Morehouse Parish are obese, 12.7 percent have diabetes and 30.2 percent have high blood pressure. The goal of these types of programs is to see these numbers decrease over time by encouraging employees to make healthier decisions, first for themselves and then for their families.

“One of our goals is to take this health and wellness program into the community,” Beaver said.

Beaver explained that by having employees take what they've learned about healthier living home with them, the program can expand to the wider community.

The grant only goes through September, but according to Beaver, the hospital will likely continue with the health and wellness efforts on some scale.