Eating healthy, exercising daily, losing weight, learning about health and wellness. And, of course, helping customers with all of their insurance needs. It’s all in a day’s work at Allen Insurance and Financial.

For the past seven months, employees at Allen Insurance and Financial have been participating in a company wellness program. Set up by Health Connections, the occupational health department at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in cooperation with the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport, the program is a model for other Midcoast businesses.

“The ideal wellness partnership is a collaborative effort and results in healthier, happier — and, ideally, more productive — employees,” said James Carroll, Health Connections director. “With Allen Insurance and Financial, that’s what we have.”

Health Connections provides in-clinic or on-site services to employers for health screenings and risk assessments, hearing and vision checks, stress management, nutritional counseling, smoking cessation programs and more. These wellness programs are available to businesses and organizations of any size.

Teaming up with the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport was an easy decision, said Carroll. In the case of the Allen program, the Y’s ability to allow dues to be paid through payroll deduction, as well as advice from the Y’s fitness experts and convenient class schedules, made the collaboration a natural fit.

“The Penobscot Bay YMCA is committed to creating a healthier Knox County,” said Troy Curtis, executive director. “As a part of this effort, the YMCA is working with local businesses to create policy and environmental changes that encourage increased physical activity and better nutritional habits. Employer-sponsored wellness programs such as the one at Allen Insurance and Financial is a great model program that the YMCA will look to share with other businesses in our service area.”

“The YMCA and Health Connections have helped our employees reinforce a positive attitude about living healthier lives,” said Sara Montgomery, Allen Insurance senior vice president. “This is important work and the rewards have been incredible.”

Nearly every one of the 60 Allen employees is a Wellness Program participant. All together, Allen people have lost almost 200 pounds since January. They have dropped points on their blood pressure and cholesterol tests. One Allen participant has improved their blood pressure readings from 149/99 to 123/76. Another lost 30 pounds.

At Allen, gone is the honor-system snack box, stocked with crackers and candy bars. In its place is a special wellness bulletin board, with tips and recipes. Wellness-theme “lunch and learns” are scheduled quarterly.

Allen people in both the Camden and Rockland offices routinely carpool to the YMCA in Rockport or the Trade Winds Health Club for lunchtime exercise. A Weight Watchers class, open to the public, meets Tuesday evenings at the Allen offices in Camden.

One of the most successful participants has been commercial insurance specialist Karen Reed of Appleton who has lost 16 pounds since January and 76 pounds overall in the past year. Reed works in Allen’s Camden office and is a Pen Bay Y member.

“I appreciate the fact that we have become very proactive in helping our employees accomplish a healthy lifestyle,” said Reed. “The company is very flexible with scheduling so that we can take our break and lunch at the same time, carpool over to the Y and work out during our lunch break at the Y. Our group comes back refreshed from a good workout and ready to start the second half of our day.”

The typical employee wellness program from Health Connections is offered in the workplace and includes computer software that assists in identifying health risks, a health coach to assist in choosing the health risks individual employees should focus on to begin making healthier lifestyle choices, completely confidentiality, communication between the wellness program and a participant’s primary care provider, when requested, and software to help plot progress and improvements.