In January 2006, former Governor Chris Gregoire directed the Health Care Authority and the Department of Health to launch Washington Wellness, a statewide wellness initiative to improve the health of state employees, retirees, and their family members (Governor's Directive to Create Washington Wellness Works).
To carry out this ambitious directive, Washington Wellness was fully staffed in January 2007 within the Health Care Authority. State agencies and institutions of higher education designate wellness coordinators to plan, implement, and improve wellness work in their own organizations, and Washington Wellness provides training and support to wellness coordinators to do this work.
It takes more than a dedicated wellness coordinator, however, and the most successful organizations find that a coordinated, integrated effort is needed to improve employee health and productivity.
Governor Inslee’s State Employee Health and Wellness Steering Committee, and the Wellness Coordinator Advisory Committee, which consists of wellness coordinators representing a variety of agencies and higher education institutions, support Washington Wellness.
In January 2013, Governor Jay Inslee announced his four priorities for health care. Among them was a focus on primary and preventive care to decrease state employee health care costs. In October 2013, the Governor issued Executive Order 13-06, which aims to increase employee health and productivity, while decreasing health risk and cost by:
- Establishing a State Employee Health and Wellness Steering Committee to design a comprehensive wellness program for state employees.
- Mandating agencies to participate in and make significant progress toward achieving the eight standards of wellness programs.
- Directing agencies to participate in diabetes prevention.
- Calling on agencies to adopt a healthy food and beverage policy.