Springfield officials want this new program to help seniors be healthy

Mercy Health and United Senior Services in downtown Springfield are partnering to offer a new program designed to encourage local seniors to more actively manage their health.

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The Wellness Passport program, which is being offered for the first time this year, will include several screenings and other events to promote physical and mental health for USS members.

“The Wellness Passport is designed for older adults,” said Maureen Fagans, executive director of USS. “This is in response to our mutual concern for helping our community’s older adults live healthier lifestyles and it’s modeled after corporate wellness programs that Mercy Health has provided here locally.”

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The year-long program is available at the USS downtown Springfield location at 125 W. Main St. The program will include everything from health screenings and nutritional education to exercise classes and social programs, she said.

The goal is to have 100 members enrolled in the Passport program the first year. The USS center has about 5,500 members overall but also serves numerous non-members through programs like Meals on Wheels and transportation programs for seniors, she said.

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USS members who sign up will receive cards listing upcoming events and receive credits for participation, Fagans said. They can also earn credits for taking part in public events like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and Relay For Life. Members become eligible for prizes as they attend events. The first benchmark prize is a free 2018 USS membership.

“The goal is obviously to improve health but it’s also to change lifestyles,” Fagans said. “The thought is if we work with people over a period of time, the behaviors necessary to improve their health will become habits. We’re helping people make lifestyle changes.”

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Mercy Health will initially offer a variety of screenings for cholesterol, glucose and other health indicators that might not otherwise be available to many USS members, said Jason Cordial, Mercy Health Wellness Coordinator.

Corial and Fagans pitched the program to the Community Health Foundation, which agreed to fund the program through a grant in its first year. The program will initially focus on health screenings, but exercise programs and other activities will ramp up early next year, Cordial said.

“We’re trying to hit every aspect of wellness, whether its mental, physical or emotional,” Cordial said.

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