News Briefs

LLifeguard, Koop partner on Internet project

Lifeguard Inc., the regional not-for-profit health plan based in San Jose, CA, has launched an Internet partnership with drkoop.com. Visitors to Lifeguard’s Web site, http://www.lifeguard.com, will have easy access to the extensive health information and the resources of drkoop.com to help them actively manage their health and wellness needs.

With this exclusive regional agreement, drkoop.com, a leading Internet health care network led by C. Everett Koop, MD, former U.S. Surgeon General, has integrated the customized content, community, and commerce features of drkoop.com with Lifeguard’s existing Web site. Medical content is presented side-by-side with information about related health care and educational services offered by Lifeguard, thus enabling members to act upon what they learn and contact appropriate physicians, services, and programs.

"Our relationship with drkoop.com allows us to provide Lifeguard members with unprecedented access to timely and valuable health care information any time and every time they choose," says S. Joseph Aita, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Lifeguard.

For more information, contact: Mark A. Margolis or Marci Blaze, The Blaze Company, 228 Main Street, Studio 4, Venice, CA 90291. Telephone: (310) 450-6060. Fax: (310) 450-4345. E-mail: mmargolis@blazecompany.com.


Small work sites trail in wellness

Approximately 25% of small work sites (15-99 employees) are providing health promotion programs, compared to 44% of work sites with 100+ employees. Those are among the key findings of the recently published Last Acts Campaign, which surveyed 2,680 work sites over a wide range of industry and size.

Almost all work sites that offered health promotion programs made them available to all of their employees. Less common, however, was the availability of those programs to family members or retirees.

Regardless of size, the vast majority of work sites (97.2% of small work sites and 95.9% of large work sites) permitted employees to participate in program activities on company time.

For more information, contact: Barksdale Ballard & Co., c/o Last Acts Campaign, Suite 205, 1951 Kidwell Drive, Vienna, VA 22182. Telephone: (703) 827-8771. E-mail: szelman@bballard.com.


Stutterers may be harder workers

Employees who stutter may be harder workers because they have to compensate for their disability, say speech experts. This finding is among the helpful tips and information provided in Stuttering: Answers for Employers, recently published by the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation of America, based in Memphis, TN.

"People who stutter have a temperament that’s perfectionist, because they often work tirelessly to gain fluency," notes Barry Guitar, PhD, professor of speech-language pathology at the University of Vermont.

If employers dismiss candidates for employment because of a speech impediment, they may be losing an opportunity to hire a hard-working employee. "It’s important for employers to look beyond the disfluencies to see the underlying qualities of the applicant," adds Pat Garahan of Burlington, VT, who has been on both sides of the fence — as an employer and as an interviewee who stutters.

For a free copy of the brochure, call toll free: (800) 992-9392, or write: Stuttering Foundation of America, 3100 Walnut Grove Road, Suite 603, P.O. Box 11749, Memphis, TN 38111-0749. Web site: www.stutterSFA.org.


On-line background checks available

Best Software Inc. and PeopleWise, a leading national pre-employment screening company, have launched a business alliance that will integrate PeopleWise’s pre-employment screening services with Best’s fully integrated HRIS solution, Abra Suite.

This integration will allow human resource professionals to complete all steps of the entire hiring process — including background checks — from their computers using the Internet. "The PeopleWise integration extends Abra Suite’s value to HR professionals and other business groups by enabling those hiring to leverage the power of the Internet to complete all steps of the hiring process from their own desktop," says Mark Sokol, product manager for Best Software’s Abra Suite.

For more information, contact: Melanie Carroll, PeopleWise. Telephone: (940) 321-5502. E-mail: melaniecarroll@mindspring.com; Brian Muys, Best Software Inc. Telephone: (703) 709-5200. E-mail: brian_muys@bestsoftware.com. Or, visit the PeopleWise Web site at: www.peoplewise.com.


Health and Well-Being-Simple test spots heart disease in women

Women may now have a powerful new weapon in the war against heart disease. A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh has shown that a noninvasive test called electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) can predict heart problems in middle-aged women who lack any clinical signs of disease and who have no standard risk factors.

The study, "Thrombosis and Vascular Biology," published in the September 1999 issue of Arteriosclerosis, suggests that more women should receive the test regardless of their perceived risk of heart disease.

"Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, but it doesn't happen overnight," says Lewis Kuller, MD, DrPH, the principal investigator who is also a university professor and the chairman of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health. "With this technology, we can now find arterial problems much earlier in women so that they can take the necessary steps to avoid life-threatening complications later on."

The project involved 541 premenopausal women, with an average age of 48, who participated in the Healthy Women Study, begun in 1983-84. After an average of 11 years, 168 of the women later underwent an EBCT. Among the findings of the study:

• High LDLc levels were a powerful predictor of the extent of coronary and aortic calcification.

• High HDLc levels resulted in practical immunity to developing significant coronary or aortic coronary calcification.

• In combination with high LDLc levels, cigarette smoking among women was a powerful predictor of aortic and coronary calcification.

• Women with high LDLc levels and low HDLc levels were at high risk of having high calcium scores (38%) vs. only 4% for those with low LDLc and high HDLc.

• Among smokers with a high LDLc and a low HDLc, 86% had evidence of coronary calcification compared to only 17% of women who were nonsmokers with a low LDLc and a high HDLc.