Harvey County's Healthy Harvey wellness program was also a hot topic of discussion at Monday's county commission meeting, particularly in addressing how rewards are earned by county employees in 2019.

Director of the Health Department Lynnette Redington brought forth a plan for review to the commissioners, noting the addition of the pneumonia vaccination and diabetes prevention program as point-earning incentives in the 2019 program, along with the established activities like being tobacco free, getting an annual physical, etc.

Along with the practices listed in the current plan, commissioner Chip Westfall questioned if the points system could be reconfigured to reward points for staying recent on vaccinations (rather than awarding them solely per shot).

"It's about having healthy employees who don't use sick leave," Westfall said of the plan. "I think there's more we can do for our people to encourage them."

Given that some vaccinations are required in certain county departments — i.e. the tuberculosis vaccination for employees in the Health Department — Westfall questioned why points couldn't be awarded to employees as long as they are up to date on their vaccinations.

With time remaining to recommend changes, the commission agreed to send the wellness program proposal back to the wellness committee for discussion, with a final version to be approved at a later date.

The commission also received an update on the gym membership benefits (stipends provided) for county employees through the wellness program.

Over five months, Redington noted nearly 30 employees — all members of the Newton YMCA (though there are other options) — have utilized the program. Each averaged 16 visits over that five-month period at a total cost of $937.50 to the county. With that minimal cost and re-enrollment in Healthy Harvey rewards coming up in October, Redington asked for an extension of the stipend benefit as part of the wellness program.

"I'd say continue on with it," said commissioner Randy Hague. "It's a good program as far as I'm concerned."

"We've only heard positive remarks about it," added Director of Finance Dan Bronson.

The commission approved the continuation of the gym stipend as part of the wellness program, with the inclusion of an evaluation following another six months.