TSYS holds first-ever men's health expo

Robert Sparks knows he has high blood pressure, something he takes medication to treat. But he still dropped by the TSYS Men’s Expo Thursday for a quick check that also included a screening for elevated blood sugar levels.

“High blood pressure is something that runs in my family,” said Sparks, 45. “Therefore, I go to the doctor and get my checkups. And I try to work out and stay in condition; I’m not overweight.”

But the TSYS client analyst also feels that what you don’t know can hurt you, if not be a killer. That’s why he praised the expo as a possible “eye opener” for some of his fellow male staffers and the fact that it shows the company “cares enough about us that they want to make sure we remain healthy.”

The three-hour Men’s Expo, held on the front lawn of the downtown Columbus corporate headquarters, actually had a feel of an employee appreciation event.

There were prize drawings, obstacle course and lawn mower contests, food and a band comprised of TSYS employees jamming on a stage. The fountain was dyed blue with this being national Men’s Health Month.

Mike McKitrick, TSYS group executive over global compensation, benefits and human resources technology, said the company has been doing women’s health expos for several years — and turning the fountain water pink. This is the first for their male colleagues.

In an era of rising medical costs and insurance premiums — and the federal Affordable Care Act — more companies are asking employees to take additional responsibility for their health. That includes better lifestyles and routine preventive screenings.

“That’s part of it,” McKitrick said of the desire to save both the company and staffers money on health care. “But, really, TSYS is more interested in our people just being healthy. The money’s important; we’re focused on our costs. But really we’re focused on our team members. We want them healthy and engaged.”

Another reason for the expo, he said, is that men tend to put off doctor visits until their health unravels and an unplanned trip to the hospital occurs.

There were no such emergencies Thursday, but Columbus Regional Health medical staff said the simple screenings did find some employees with high blood pressure and sugar levels. Their blanket recommendation was to make a prompt appointment with a physician for further evaluation and testing.

“We also warn them about the signs of a stroke, with facial drooping, weakness on one side, speech slurring and things like that,” said Dr. Jennifer Roberts-Woodbury, who is with Columbus Regional’s Family Medicine Residency Program.

Dr. Greg Foster, associate director of the program, said participation at TSYS was “overwhelming” and the mobile screening and education program — which had been idle about five years — is looking to crank up to a steady level once again.

The medical staff visited Georgia Power last week, and they’ve also been to Aflac, the Columbus Water Works and set up a senior health stop on the riverwalk.

“Anything that we can do to bring health care to the patient and get them involved and get them to learn to be responsible for taking care of themselves is going to pay off dividends down the road,” Foster said.