SVG Health Watch: CBS Sports Offers More Health Screenings at Final Four

Last week, as a legion of 350 staff members, freelancers, and vendors made their way to Houston to begin setting up CBS Sports production of the Final Four, the network offered a free chance for those workers to assess their health. CBS Sports sponsored its fourth health screening during a set day at Reliant Stadium, and Environmental Health and Safety Manager Rodney North could not have been more pleased with the results.

“We did it for four hours on Wednesday, during the setup, because people come in at different times,” he says. “I have worked with the CBS benefits department in organizing these screenings. They fund it and get a crew on-site, and they put together a really nice setup within the catering area.”

Take-Home Advice
In Houston, the CBS crew and its vendors — and a few representatives from other networks whom North allows to slide through — were able to be tested for cholesterol, glucose, hypertension, BMI, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Counseling was provided as well.

“They would get their biometrics and then meet a counselor who would give them some lifestyle changes that they would need to make,” North says. “It gives them something to take back with them, and then other people ask about it. Setting it up within the catering area creates a buzz.”

At the US Open tennis tournament in August, CBS offered blood-sugar, glucose, hypertension, and cholesterol screenings and gave flu shots. North estimates that about a third of the production crew went through the screenings, and CBS will be sponsoring the effort again at this year’s US Open. He hopes to add a skin-cancer screening this time around, but his biggest goal is to generate awareness.

“Hopefully, they make some changes to their lifestyle so that they’re healthier and more productive, which translates to a lot, including better productions,” he says. “Even the folks who don’t participate thought it was fantastic. It boosts morale, and it shows CBS cares. If you have healthier people, the less likely they are to be involved in a work-related incident, and retention is greater.”

Honing a Focused Approach
The screenings are confidential, but North gets an aggregate report that shows the range of results for each test. Based on those results, he hopes to start creating more-customized outreach.

“Right now, we’re doing a shotgun approach,” he says. “But we’ll start to shape our campaign based on the results of the screenings. If we see a lot of people are overweight, we’ll start hitting them from that angle and try to provide a new service to combat that.”

Making Screenings Mobile
Another tool North hopes to provide is through the Sports Production Safety Group (SPSG) Website, where he hopes to add a Health Risk Assessment Tool. There, workers will be able to input their biometrics, and the software will show that individual’s health risks.

“What I love about that particular tool is that it will tailor programs and diet, so it will give you things like a recipe that you can incorporate into your diet to hopefully reduce, if not eliminate, any risk that you may have,” North says. “I think that’s very helpful, especially for guys on the road, to be able to access on their iPad or their smartphone.

“A lot of these guys are road warriors, and they don’t have time to get off the road, go visit a doctor, and get an annual screening,” he adds. “The major purpose of these screenings is to get the guys’ biometrics. Some folks find out that they have diabetes, and they were completely unaware. Now that they’re aware, they can make the appropriate lifestyle changes and get better. We just have to work to make screenings like this happen and try to create this paradigm shift within the industry.”

Teamwork Across Networks
Through the SPSG, North has been in discussions with representatives from other networks to offer screenings at several major events a year. Across ABC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC, North says, there are about 10,000 freelance workers in the business, so, if each network could provide two or three screenings a year at their biggest events, SPSG could successfully offer this service to the majority of the freelance population.

He also hopes to add a wellness tab to the SPSG page, which will provide visitors with tools and information that they can use to make better lifestyle choices.

“I’m hoping that, over the course of the next few years, we’ll start to see some changes, and as a result, you may see changes in what’s being provided from catering,” North says. “I think the management is very receptive. If people start to educate themselves and become better eaters, then we may see even more requests for healthier options.”

For more information about SPSG, click here.