Biometric preening — dying is not good business

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

For success in long-term care, you want your employees to stay well, and especially not dead. If it isn't already, that should probably be a primary component of your business plan. A dead staff member is notoriously unreliable, often not even having the courtesy to call in, finish tasks as assigned or complete a proper exit interview. So you need your people alive. It's just good business.

That's why I have nothing but respect and appreciation for employers who invest in workforce health and wellness. I'm employed at just such a place, and last week was my opportunity to participate in something called “biometric screening.” I didn't know what it was or what to expect, but it sounded like I was going to be in a movie—maybe a sequel to Gattaca.

I wore my Thursday best, and was welcomed to the conference room by some very pleasant people in crisp, white lab coats who expressed what appeared to be a sincere desire to help evaluate my risk for certain life-threatening diseases. I explained that I was in peak physical condition for a man more than twice my age and showed them a summary of the mail-order DNA profile I've been carrying around since the O.J. Simpson trial. They were unimpressed and told me to sit down. Please.

Out of a deep respect for HIPAA and my personal dignity, I'm not going to share any specifics about how I did on my biometric testing, or use my full name in this article. Let's just say there were some areas of apparent concern, and I think I caught my screener dabbing away a worried tear with an unused piece of gauze. “Please don't cry,” I said. “I'll change my answers. I'll buy a vial of blood from a healthy co-worker. I'll convert my weight to metric.” She appreciated these thoughtful gestures but graciously declined.

Amidst and amongst the dark clouds of my imminent mortality, my results also contained a ray of sunshine. I'm pleased to report that I did extremely well on the “height” portion of the test. This was very gratifying, as it's something I've been taking seriously and working on a lot lately. I've adopted and maintained several positive height habits over the past several months, and surprised even myself with the extraordinary results.  

On a bad news/good news kind of day, I can't imagine what a relief it must be for my employer to know that if I were to pass away in an untimely fashion from a horrible disease, it appears unlikely to be height-related. And at the risk of celebratory preening, I feel a real sense of achievement about that. Because wellness is good, but heightness is better.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.