MUSC, city aim to make workplaces healthier

MUSC already promotes healthy choices in its cafeterias and vending machines. The university teamed up with city officials to launch the Charleston Healthy Business Challenge.

The city of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina are launching an initiative to encourage area employers to become healthier places to work.

Businesses can participate in the Charleston Healthy Business Challenge for free.

MUSC already has made significant strides in promoting health among employees, patients and visitors. It was awarded the S.C. Hospital Association’s Working Well Gold Apple for its progress.

The hospital encourages healthy choices in vending machines and posts calorie counts for items in the cafeteria. Smoking is prohibited throughout the campus.

In the new challenge, businesses will be graded based on their own improvement — particularly by the policies they put in place this year to encourage wellness, said Susan Johnson, MUSC’s director of health promotion.

For example, she said, allowing employees to work out during breaks and installing “active work stations,” such as sit-to-stand desks, will improve their individual scores at the end of the year.

“Policies don’t really cost anything and they’re critical for establishing a culture (of wellness),” Johnson said.

She unveiled the challenge in a joint press conference with Mayor Joe Riley last week. “Workplaces are more than just a paycheck to our employees and an economic driver to our region,” Riley said in a letter to area businesses on the initiative’s new website. “They are critical in shaping how we live and the impact we have on our community.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.