McIntosh takes Wellness challenge

For 18 years, Suzanne McIntosh saw the effect side of the employee wellness equation. Now, as the University of Lethbridge's new Wellness Coordinator, she gets a chance to address the causal aspect.

A veteran of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB), McIntosh spent the better part of the last two decades working with those who had already suffered an accident or injury that was keeping them off the job. Her opportunity now is to work with employees to stave off such occurrences, all the while assisting in creating a happier, more productive workplace.

"One of my main roles is working with faculty, staff – anybody who's an employee of the University – making sure they have information about their health and wellness so that they can be healthy and productive at work," she says.

"Eventually we would like to assist individuals to be pro-active with their health and wellness and make sure they do stay at work."

A Picture Butte native, McIntosh spent the majority of her time at the WCB in Calgary. She first worked with injured clients who could not return to work, then moved into a case manager's role. For much of the last 10 years she served as an account manager as well as a supervisor.

With a diploma in rehabilitation services from Lethbridge College, she is more than qualified to assist with employees who are off work with illness or injury. What she'd rather do is keep them on the job in the first place.

"In the last five to 10 years, employers are really taking a good look at health and wellness and how they can get their employees to be more productive," she says. "It's very costly to have people off work so initially (employers) were looking at just that aspect.
"I think what they are finding now is that it just rolls over into so many more benefits for the employees. They are much happier at work, people like coming to work, it's a much more community-focused approach."

At her disposal is the Health and Wellness Centre and McIntosh wants to incorporate its use as much as possible.

"The University has so many resources here and for me that's really exciting because there's so much to tap into," she says. "We can coordinate with the fitness and health centre and look at a program where employees could go in and do a health screening. Then we can come in and help them where they are lacking, with an exercise program for example, or information on their diet and nutrition."

Back in southern Alberta, McIntosh said she could not be happier. With a family of four that includes two young daughters, she says the life balance that can be achieved in Lethbridge, as opposed to Calgary, is a revelation.

"It took a little while to get used to a new community again but now I really enjoy being back here," she says. "I don't miss Calgary at all, except once in a while for shopping. I've found how much more time a person has and that's part of balancing your life."


• Married to husband Darren, the two will enjoy their 24th anniversary this spring. They have two daughters, Samara (15) and Nikki (11)

• McIntosh's maiden name is Vogt. She's the sister to CTV News Director Terry Vogt

• As the Wellness Coordinator, she practices what she preaches. "I try to go to the gym three or four times a week. I run a little bit, I'm pretty active; I like to do anything outside. I garden, golf in the summer when the weather is good, pretty much anything."

• McIntosh took over for Rosi Gregory and began her post in November

• Heads up for the next Wellness initiative, the May 1 to June 12 Spring Challenge