first street bridge with bikes photo

By Katy Bryce for Commute Options

Local health and medical facilities know that investing in employee health and wellness means a more satisfied, happy and productive workforce. Anthony Igou says it best. “I cannot stress the importance of the health and wellness of employees at our hospital as well as in our community as a whole. Health and wellness is multi-faceted, including nutrition, sleep, and exercise and the Commute Options program is a great compliment to our wellness programs to help our staff stay healthy.”

Igou is the Laboratory Outreach Coordinator for Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls and facilitates Sky Lakes’ participation in the Commute Options Partner (COPs) program. Since enrolling in the program in October 2014, Sky Lakes offers various programs and benefits as part of their employee health and wellness benefits.

Employees can track trips and earn rewards through Sky Lakes also has outside bicycle lockers, inside bicycle storage, and showers available to encourage people to bike, run or walk to work. They organize bike-to-work challenges and outreach activities to educate their employees about the benefits of active transportation. “Biking, walking or running to work is a great opportunity to stay healthy while commuting to work. Then you don’t have to set aside extra time in your day to get exercise,” adds Igou.

Mid-Columbia Medical Center (MCMC) in The Dalles has participated in the COPs program for the last three years as an added benefit to employees. The facility draws staff from a large region, up to 35 miles away, so they recognize the importance of promoting carpooling for employees. MCMC also encourages nearby employees to walk and bike to work by providing bike parking and showers. Michele Spatz, Project and Mobility Coordinator for Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, encourages people to do what they can. “We like to tell people to start with one day a week for seven weeks. It takes seven weeks to form a habit, so that is a good start.”

St. Charles Medical Center in Bend signed up for the COPs program in April to first, reduce single-car occupancy in their parking lots and make more parking available for their patients and second, to encourage a more economical and environmentally friendly way for their caregivers to get to work. St. Charles already has an impressive 160 employees enrolled in the program since April.

Commute Options Community Outreach Director Kim Curley adds, “Walking, biking, carpooling and riding the bus to work have all shown to improve the health of your workforce. And what better industry to adopt active transportation goals than medical and health care providers? Hospitals and medical facilities are also large employers in our region and their participation in Commute Options is a huge benefit to our community as well. Chances are, you know someone who works at one of these facilities, so spread the word!”

Other local health partners include PacificSource, Bend Memorial Clinic, Mosaic Medical and the Deschutes County Health Department.

Commute Options offers their Partner Program to all businesses and organizations and can help your business create a healthy workplace and community.

Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit

Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend.