Western New York Wellness Works

Title: Western New York Wellness Works

Principal Investigator: Joan Dorn, PhD

Funding Agency: NY State Department of Health

Period: 01/01/04 - 12/31/08, and extended to 12/31/10

Abstract: A $1 million grant to the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo, made possible by State Senator Mary Lou Rath, will be used to kick-start an innovative initiative to improve the health and wellness of workers in Western New York. The initiative, called Western New York Wellness Works, is a pilot program conceived by Rath to allow employers and employees to share in the "wellness dividend."

The program, announced in May 2004 by Senator Rath at a press conference at UB, provides matching funds to companies in the region selected to participate based on their plans for employee wellness programs. The goal of the initiative is to document the premise that making healthy choices can improve the lives of workers, decrease the health-care costs, and increase productivity.

In July 2006, it was announced the program will receive an additional $500,000. The new funds will be used to support a regional resource center, including a library of scientific data and wellness experts for use by employers and legislators, to develop a regional policy academy to introduce and brief officials about current research in employees health and wellness, and to conduct a detailed analysis of baseline and follow-up data, particularly on the complex issue of health care costs.