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September 28, 2006

SAC wants wellness incentives, expanded services

The Staff Association Council (SAC) has endorsed the addition of wellness incentives to Pitt’s fitness for life program, and well as expanding the mental health services offered by the faculty and staff assistance program (FSAP).

SAC voted unanimously last week to support two proposals proffered by its benefits committee.

The first proposal calls for adding “directed weight control/exercise incentive/lifestyle change programs to the fitness for life component” of the UPMC Health Plan.

The proposal states, “We propose that these [programs] take the form of face-to-face support meetings and hands-on assistance similar to those programs that have been tested by experts in the field to be most effective in achieving healthy lifestyle goals.”

That proposal was approved without discussion.

The second proposal, “to extend the services of the faculty and staff assistance program,” also was introduced by SAC benefits chair Steve Zupcic. “The benefits committee [of SAC] proposes the removal of appointment limits on client contact with the FSAP,” coupled with more effective marketing strategies for FSAP services, Zupcic stated. “The implementation of this proposal would encourage broader utilization of the FSAP rather than the mental health services provided through the UPMC Health Plan, resulting in the eventual savings to both the individual and the plan.”

But Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources who attended the Sept. 20 meeting, cautioned that, if implemented, the proposal would mean higher costs to health plan participants. “I’m not saying it’s a bad proposal,” Frisch said. “I’m not either endorsing it or not endorsing it. But you just need to understand that if additional [FSAP] sessions are added, it will mean a significant rise in health care rates.”

Frisch said that “in theory” there would be a reduction of costs for utilizing non-FSAP mental health services over time, but health care rates for Pitt employees nonetheless would go up in the short term.

The University’s contract for FSAP services is driven by the number of participants and the number of sessions, Frisch noted. “It’s supply and demand. Because this is part of our health care insurance, we all pay for it. I just want you to understand what you’re supporting,” he said.

SAC members then agreed to refer the proposal to the University’s medical advisory committee for further evaluation.

The advisory committee comprises faculty, staff and administrators who annually negotiate with UPMC Health Plan officials for the University’s health benefits options.

In other SAC developments:

• SAC’s Oct. 18 fall assembly will be an informational marketplace of University and area services. Participants include: PNC Bank, Pitt Arts, Eureka Bank, Venture Outdoors, Eat’n Park dine and donate program, Greater Pittsburgh Credit Union, Human Resources, TIAA-CREF, Verizon Wireless, University Volunteer Pool, Oakland Business Improvement District, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, National City Bank, Student Health Services, Pitt’s wellness program, faculty and staff assistance program, child health insurance program (CHIP), Office of Child Development, Falk Pharmacy, Collegiate YMCA, Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and Parking, Transportation and Services.

A silent auction will be held and light refreshments will be served.

The marketplace, which is set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m.., Oct. 18, at the William Pitt Union (WPU) Ballroom, replaces the monthly SAC meeting. SAC next meets at 12:15 p.m. Nov. 15 in 1175 Benedum Hall.

• SAC heard a report from education professor Consuella Lewis, who is co-chair of the committee that organized the upcoming Senate plenary session, set for 2-5 p.m., Oct. 19 in the WPU Assembly Room. The plenary session, “Fostering Mentoring for Sustaining Organizational Vitality,” will feature a number of Pitt speakers. Lewis said that a pilot mentoring program for faculty is being launched this term and that the hope is to set up a comparable program for mentoring staff.

A series of mentoring-related brown bag workshops will be offered as follow-ups to the plenary session, she said.

For more information on the plenary session, contact the University Senate office at 4-6505.

• SAC program and planning committee chair Gwen Watkins reported that more than 1,000 people attended Pitt’s annual Kennywood Day, held July 30. The event raised almost $2,000 to benefit the SAC Endowed Book Fund for Children of Staff, bringing the fund’s total to almost $7,000. SAC hopes to raise $10,000 to endow the book fund fully, Watkins said.

SAC is planning a Nov. 3 holiday bazaar featuring tables with arts and crafts and other items for sale, Watkins said. Tables cost $25 and benefit the book fund; sale proceeds go to the individual vendors.

For more information, contact the SAC office at 4-4236.

Watkins noted that area Eat’n Park restaurants are holding a “dine and donate” fundraiser for the SAC book fund from Oct. 18 to Nov. 8. The restaurant chain is donating 10 percent of the cost of a check for customers who show a “dine and donate” flyer at the register. Flyers are available at the SAC office in 313 Bellefield Hall; phone: 4-4236. (Also, see ad with coupon on page 5 of this issue.)

• Zupcic reported that SAC’s benefits committee will compare faculty and staff retiree privileges, such as maintenance of a Pitt computer account and library privileges.

His committee also will investigate procedures in place following the death of a current staff member as compared to a faculty member. “I’m not reporting anything because as yet we haven’t looked into it, only that we will be looking into these two items,” Zupcic said.

• SAC President Rich Colwell urged SAC members to read closely the Sept. 14 University Times article, “BPC chair wants study of Pitt’s salary policy.”

“This is an excellent article that covers a lot of the salary issues relevant to staff,” Colwell said. “Frankly, in the past, I’ve been strapped by confidentiality constraints from bringing these issues up in public. But now some of them are out in the open.”

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 39 Issue 3

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