Workplace Wellness Program Catches Cancer Through Screenings, Education

Monday, December 31, 2018

Cookeville Regional’s Workplace Wellness Program, led by Community Wellness Manager Wanda Richardson, provides a variety of health-related services for business and industry throughout the Upper Cumberland.


One of the program’s primary offerings is workplace health fairs, where a variety of cost-effective screenings are offered to employees of around 15 companies and organizations each year. While the screenings test for everything from cholesterol to blood type to A1C and B12 levels, some of the tests performed or scheduled during these events have been successful in detecting cancer.


One screening, a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in men, can indicate possible cancer if levels are high. Richardson tracks participants’ PSA levels from year to year so participants can have an idea of how they are progressing over time.


“We have more than 30 men we’re following,” said Richardson. “When I send their health fair results to them, I include the PSA history and can also send their doctor a copy.”


While the health fairs do not provide low-dose lung CT screenings or mammograms on site, participants can see if they qualify and can make appointments to get them done at Cookeville Regional.


“From January through June this year, we had 200 low-dose lung CT screenings,” said Richardson. “Twenty-two were suspicious and sent for PET scans or biopsies, and of those, two tested positive for cancer.”


Women who are uninsured are connected with the Save a Life program, which helps them get free mammograms through the Go Pink Fund.


“For the free mammograms, we screened 122 participants in the first half of this year,” said Richardson. “We did not have any positive findings, but we have performed biopsies on some to make sure.”


Besides these cancer-specific screenings, some of the other tests offered can sometimes catch cancer, as well.


“We may see a spot that’s questionable on an abdominal aorta screening and make a note of it, and then we get them in to look further,” said Richardson. “And if we find things that are going awry with their thyroid levels, we can look further and maybe schedule an ultrasound. We occasionally detect thyroid cancer this way.”


Besides screenings, another major component of the health fairs is education.


“Education is a big part of what we do,” said Richardson. “Everyone who gets bloodwork done gets a packet where we outline the signs and symptoms of different types of cancer and give them information about smoking cessation and our lung cancer screenings and the qualifying criteria.”


Richardson also leads workplace lunch-and-learn talks where physicians speak on various health topics including cancer detection and prevention, and she leads in-house workplace smoking cessation classes for companies that are interested.


“Early detection — it’s the key to everything,” said Richardson.


To coordinate a wellness event for your organization or for more information concerning CRMC’s Workplace Wellness services, contact Richardson at (931) 783-2743 or