Sewickley woman writes book on workplace wellness
When Rose Gantner was younger, she always was the one people came to for advice. Nothing has changed.Except now, she has packed much of her advice into a new book, "Workplace Wellness: Performance with a Purpose," which she self-published through Well Works Publishing last month after 18 months of research and a lifetime of leadership, teaching, counseling, health management consultation and writing experience."I've always loved helping people help themselves and improve their quality of life and well-being," she said. Gantner, 68, who grew up on the South Side and lived in various southern states for 35 years, moved to Sewickley six years ago to spend time with her mother before she died.Three years ago, Gantner moved to Moon Township and now is closer with her sister, Mim Bizic, of Moon, a former librarian and teacher in the Quaker Valley School District.Gantner, senior director of health promotion, consumer education, training and innovation at UPMC Health Plan in Pittsburgh, thanked Bizic in the book for her support and suggestions. Gantner said the book, which has had much praise from others in the health care industry, could help employees and employers work together to reduce health care costs and practice preventative medicine.It encourages employers to lead by example and be the first ones to participate in programs. It offers ways and incentives to get and keep employees interested in sustaining a healthy lifestyle. The book is designed to assist business leaders, managers and consultants decrease health care costs by improving employee productivity, satisfaction and health conditions. It offers strategies, tips, and facts and research about the economic benefits of health care, psychology and wellness. The book also offers testimonials from employees and employers who benefited from the programs and highlights award-winning wellness programs nationwide.Although Ganter said she has more than 30 years of experience in the behavioral health care field, she learned the most from her mother, who studied medical bacteriology and also was the social worker of the neighborhood without the degree. "She was the kindest, most empathetic and compassionate person," Gantner said. And, she has carried on that tradition. In her book, Ganter emphasizes the importance of compassion in the workplace. She said health management should take into account the whole person, including their families and where they work, live, play and pray, not just their physical ailments. Employers also should look at employees financial, social and emotional well-being as well. In today's economy, Gantner said, many employees are expected to do more with less when other workers are laid off and not replaced. "You can only do that for so long, and then you burn out," said Gantner, who also advised allowing employees more flextime and the opportunity to work from home. Employees also need "downtime" with family and friends so the can find a work-life balance. "If you work hard, you need to play hard too," she said.For Gantner, her interest in helping others improve their health began when she was in her 20s when she left a university teaching position to volunteer for two tours of duty — the second as a supervisor with the American Red Cross in Vietnam. She and other volunteers provided reaction activities for soldiers in the field and visited them in the hospital. Gantner spent much of her time with patients in the psychiatric ward.When she returned to the United States, she earned her doctorate in counseling psychology from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., and founded and operated her own counseling and psychology practice, the Center for Life Coping Skills, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder and volunteering to help some military families deal with the disorder.Before moving to Sewickley, Gantner also worked as vice president of a large health care company in Arkansas; served as a health management consultant to state government officials and for Fortune 500 companies; was CEO for a psychiatric hospital in Texas and Arkansas; taught clinical psychology, exercise physiology and health education at three universities and lectured at several national health care conferences. The book can be purchased at amazon.com and at local bookstores. For more information, visit www.rosegantner.com .