Wellness rolls into truck stops

Wellness rolls into truck stops

October 29th, 2010 by Brittany Cofer in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Covenant Transport driver David Straub, right, gets a flu shot from Roadside Medical Clinic Dr. Lou Barnes. Dr. Barnes was brought in by the trucking company from the clinic at the Pilot Travel Center in Knoxville.

Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Covenant...

Chattanooga-based Covenant Transport is facing health care head-on as one of the first trucking companies in the country to adopt a preventive care program to slash costs.

The truckload carrier recently partnered with Las Vegas-based Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab and began offering about 2,500 employees added health care benefits through Roadside's Driver Wellness program. Employees who participate receive preventive health information geared specifically toward truck drivers as well as routine 30-day checkups at clinics around the country.

"We can't control medical costs by dealing with it after the claim occurs," said Michelle Olk, human resources director for Covenant Transport. "Our thought is, if we are able to give people information about their current health status, they can help take care of their health and improve their health before a serious problem occurs. It helps the company control costs and improves the lives of our employees."

Bob Perry, president of Roadside Medical, has been developing the wellness program for several years and said that growing up in the trucking industry, he knows firsthand how health care can fall by the wayside among truck drivers. Given their packed schedules and limited opportunity for exercise, it can be difficult for drivers to follow a health regimen, he said.

As part of Roadside Medical's plan, employees at Covenant receive a health and wellness "tool kit" that includes a pedometer, instructions for a walking program, coupons, a grocery list of foods to stock the truck with, healthy eating guides and access to a health coach line that can be called at any time, Perry said.

"This is the first major step in driver wellness," he said, predicting other companies will do the same.

Drivers are also taught ways they can exercise using the machinery they're most familiar with: trucks. Using the fender and bumper for push-ups and squats, the chain for curls and rolling tires for arm exercises, the drivers can achieve workouts similar to those in a traditional gym while they're on the road, Perry said.

The program "comes to the drivers where they are, which is out on the road," Olk said. "It adapts the entire program toward their lifestyle, the places they go, things they do, types of exercise opportunities they have, the types of foods they eat and the choices they can make as consumers."