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How are you feeling today?

News of a widespread public health concern like COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can present new or unique challenges and with information changing daily, it can be difficult to maintain feeling your best.

You may be working from home, or maybe your facility is closed. Or, maybe you are on the front lines keeping essential services running. Meanwhile, the whole family is home together, you’re doing the distance learning and trying to keep an eye on the kids so they’re doing their schoolwork. How do you cope?

Here are a few healthy ways to cope with the pandemic.

First, go for a walk at a time that works for you. Maybe go on a bike ride over lunch hour; even though you’re working from home, it will help keep an at-work routine. Whatever works for you, move your body. It will help.

Second, have you ever tried guided meditation? I know, maybe not your usual go-to! But seriously, it’s a good way to bring yourself into the present and breathe and just be aware of what your body is doing. Meditation is simpler to do than what many think. In fact, it can be as simple as breathing! Try the breathing exercise on this meQuilibrium resource page.

Third, listen to music! Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life.

A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Read more and try out some music therapy with this link.

Finally, find one thing to be grateful for. That can be really hard when you have financial stress or when you have anxiety about the future, but if you can, find just one thing to be grateful for and then say it out loud. It’ll feel unnatural at first, but then it starts to become a little more comfortable: ”I’m grateful to offer help to our employees.” That’s mine today.

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Things to know about the Novel Coronavirus

Information about the 2019 novel coronavirus is now headline news. This new strain of viral respiratory illness was first identified in Wuhan, China, but has since spread to other areas of the world, including the United States. Scientists are working to better understand the virus and answer questions about its severity and duration and how easily it can be transmitted between people.

New form of a common virus

“Coronavirus is the name of a family of viruses that we’ve known about for a long time. In fact, a form of it causes about 30% of cases of the common cold. But this strain is new and there is still much to learn about it,” explained John Piatkowski, M.D., Medica’s Senior Medical Director.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) are monitoring the new virus outbreak closely. As of March 2, there have been tens of thousands of confirmed cases and more than 2,000 deaths worldwide from the new virus strain including an estimated 100 diagnosed cases and six deaths in the United States. In comparison, there have been an estimated 26 million diagnosed cases and 14,000 deaths from influenza in the United States in the current flu season.

The health and well-being of our members is a priority for us and we will continue to monitor the status of the coronavirus. As with any other viral illness, Medica will cover diagnostic testing and care that is supported by the member’s health plan benefits.

How to protect yourself

“The best defense against any type of viral illness is to avoid being exposed to it. The infectious disease experts who are tracking coronavirus recommend the same everyday precautions you already use to avoid catching a cold or the flu,” said Dr. Piatkowski.

These include:
Wash your hands thoroughly – and often – with soap and water.
If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay at home when you are sick.

Learn more

Both the CDC and MDH offer helpful information on coronavirus and related viral illnesses:
CDC Coronavirus Website
CDC Travel Health Notices:
MDH Coronavirus Website

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5 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

Five Ways to Improve Your Hearth Health

If you worry that you or someone you love will get heart disease or even have a heart attack, it’s understandable.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Research shows you can lower your risk, particularly if you team up with family, friends or co-workers. This kind of social support may be the key to your success.

To mark American Heart Month, NHLBI, one of the National Institutes of Health, is inviting people across the country to team up and join #OurHearts, a national heart health initiative that encourages people to improve heart health together.

“Studies show that having positive, close relationships and feeling connected to others benefits overall health, blood pressure, weight and more,” said NHLBI’s Dr. David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences.

Consider these five tips that can help lower your risk of heart disease:

Risk: Inactivity


Move more throughout your day. Aim for at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity. Build up to activity that gets your heart beating faster and leaves you a little breathless. If you’re busy, try breaking your daily activity into 10-minute chunks.

Stay motivated: Make walking dates. Join a pickup soccer or basketball game. Join a fitness class with your neighbor. Grab a loved one and dance in your kitchen.

Risk: An unhealthy diet


Consider an option like NHLBI’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is free and scientifically proven to lower high blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

Stay motivated: Invite friends to cook up heart healthy recipes together. Start a lunch club at work and trade recipe ideas.

Risk: Smoking, even


Quitting can be beneficial to your overall health, even if you’ve smoked for years. Set a quit date and let those close to you know. If you’ve tried quitting in the past, consider what helped and what made it harder.

Stay motivated: Ask your family and friends for support or join a support group. Find resources and connect with a trained counselor at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or

Risk: Inadequate or poor-quality sleep


Sleeping 7-8 hours each night helps improve heart health. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight may also improve sleep.

Stay motivated: Resist that late afternoon nap. Turn off all screens at a set time nightly. Relax by listening to music, reading or taking a bath.

Risk: Uncontrolled stress


To help manage stress, try relaxation therapy and increase physical activity. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone you trust. De-stressing may also help improve sleep.

Stay motivated: Join a friend or family member in a relaxing activity like walking, yoga or meditation every day.

Learn about heart health and heart healthy activities in your community at Use #OurHearts on social media to share how you and your friends, colleagues or family members are being heart healthy together.


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Pathway to 3500

Starting January 2020, earn a total of 3,500 points to qualify for your full $900 HRA contribution. Just 1,500 points needed for a $300 HRA contribution. And, earn Medica incentives along the way!

My Health Rewards by Medica is now powered by Virgin Pulse, a pioneer in digital health and wellness solutions that help you build healthy habits and live your best life. Whether you want to eat healthier, sleep more, stress less or get fit, My Health Rewards is an online tool that helps you take small steps to reach your health goals.

In addition to the well-being program, Healthy Saint Paul supports you throughout the year by offering a variety of exercise classes, challenges and promotions.

One pathway to 3500
Health Assessment
Biometric Screening
Set Goal
Journeys (2x)
Next Steps
Another route to 3500
Health Assessment
Biometric Screening
Set interest (2x)
Phone coaching
Next steps
Make your own way to 3500 by choosing from our list
of activities here!

Don’t Forget to Get More!

Earn rewards for healthy behavior. Rewards encourage and motivate you to complete healthy programs and activities. Redeem points for e-gift cards, or shop for health and fitness products in the Virgin Pulse store. You can even donate your rewards to a charitable cause.

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Open Enrollment Wrap Up

77% of City employees took the opportunity to ensure their benefits for 2020 are exactly what they want. Whether you changed health plans or not, EVERYONE will get a new ID card because of the change in pharmacy vendor.

2020 elections are still in a pending status, so they will not display as “current benefits” until January 1. If you have questions in the meantime about your elections, contact Jane, Rachel or Nance Lee on the Benefits Team.

ERN the BURNers!

Remember how stressful it was to not see your points show up on the Medica portal? So you went to the MeQuilibrium app to help with your stress, but then THOSE points didn’t show up either?
Well, no more!

Starting in January, all City-sponsored wellness options offered outside of Medica will still be listed on the new Virgin Pulse portal. All your points in one place!
We are getting ready to test the new system. Shortly after that, we will begin communicating how to get there and get started with your 2020 program.

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Virtual Care

Virtual care*, also known as online care or an e-visit, is a convenient way to get care for many common conditions. Connect with a provider from your computer or mobile device to get a diagnosis, treatment plan and prescription (if needed).

Virtual care may be a time-saving option for common conditions like:
Allergies, High blood pressure
Bladder infection, Migraines
Bronchitis, Pink eye
Cold and cough, Rashes
Ear pain, Sinus infection
Flu or other non-urgent, common health conditions

With a virtual care visit, you:

  • Save time — avoid a trip to the doctor’s office and get care from the comfort of your home, work or wherever you are.
  • Initiate the visit at your convenience — no appointment needed.
  • Get care when you need it — visits are often available after clinic hours, sometimes even 24/7.
  • May save money — a virtual care visit may cost less than a regular visit to the doctor’s office, depending on your plan.

To check your plan’s coverage for virtual care, log on to, select Look Up My Benefits and click on Coverage Documents. Look for “virtual care” under the Physician Services section. Or call Customer Service at the number on the back of your Medica ID card.

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Employee Assistance Program


When you need help with life’s challenges — whether it’s personal, financial or legal concerns — call the Medica® Optum® Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Master’s level specialists can help you find answers and resources to tackle the tough issues you and your family face. This service is available at no additional cost to you, as part of your benefit plan. Your call and conversations with EAP specialists are kept confidential, in accordance with the law.

With EAP, you have access to:

  • Five counseling sessions per issue per year covered at 100%.
  • Legal and mediation services to help with will and trust preparation, child support or custody concerns, divorce, adoption and more. You receive a 30-minute legal consultation at no cost (in person or over the phone). If you decide to hire an attorney, you’ll get a 25% discount.
  • Financial advisor support to help with debt, financial planning, foreclosure and more.
  • Child care referrals and support to help take care of elderly parents.
  • An online resource, Access a robust collection of interactive resources and information that will help you with the everyday challenges of work and life. Enter the access code “MEDICA” when you visit the site.
  • Community resources, like support groups.
  • Help with dependency issues, like alcohol, tobacco, gambling or drugs.
  • Education resources and career consulting.

EAP specialists are available anytime, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 800-626-7944.

This program should not be used for emergency or urgent care needs. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. This program is not a substitute for a doctor’s or professional’s care.

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Deadline is September 30 – Is Less than 2 months away!

200 points = $300 HRA contribution

300 points = $900 HRA contribution

Don’t leave $900 on the table in 2020!

Activities must be completed by September 30, 2019.

Two easy steps to getting your first 200 points:

Biometric screening = 100 points. Have at your doctor or use a voucher from Medica’s website
Health assessment (taken online) = 100 points

Please note steps below regarding the Compass Online Health Assessment:

Log on to and click on the Health & Wellness tab

Scroll down to the Start your health assessment section on the homepage and click the LET’S DO THIS link.

Click the LET’S BEGIN button on the health assessment page.

Important: If you took the health assessment last year, the site may show your results from the previous plan year. To earn 100 points for the 2019 program and the $20 gift card, be sure to click the green “RETAKE” button at the top of the page (see example below).



How you choose to earn the additional 100 points is up to you.
Complete multiple Journeys, complete health coaching, track activity. Some activities take up to 8 weeks to complete – get started now!

Just remember that 300 total points must be earned by September 30, 2019 to receive the $900 in 2020.

As an extra incentive, for every 100 points you earn, you also get a $20 gift card! (up to 500 points / 5 gift cards)

If you want to keep going after the September deadline, through the end of the year you can continue wellness activities and earn up to 5 gift cards total.

NOTE: If you are doing MeQuiiibrium or ERN the Burn, those points will NOT show on the Medica portal. However they will be added to your total for the City HRA incentive.

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Medica Healthy Savings Program

Eating healthier just got easier! Save money on a variety of foods with the Medica Healthy Savings program. Healthy Savings allows you to save on foods that help you take charge of your health and achieve your wellness goals.

How it works
If you live near a participating store, you’ll be enrolled automatically in the program. Just watch your mailbox for more information and your Healthy Savings card. There’s no extra cost for Healthy Savings; it’s just another benefit of being a Medica member!
Each week, featured healthy promotions are pre-loaded onto your Healthy Savings account. You can shop for the promotions at any of our participating grocery stores. You can customize grocery lists, and even use a smartphone in the store to find the specials you want.

Scan your Healthy Savings card or mobile app at checkout and save instantly on healthy foods in every food group —dairy, fruit, vegetables, proteins, and grains. During the summer months, you can even save on healthy produce at participating farmers markets.

Get the mobile app
Download the Healthy Savings mobile app from the App Store or Google Play to get savings on your smartphone. The app features customized messages, personalized lists, store locations and a mobile barcode to use at checkout.

Visit for more information.
Buy healthy. Eat healthy. Be healthy.

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Step Up For Your City!

Halfway through – register today!

Get a team of co-workers together or participate on your own. Every minute of tracked physical activity counts!
Log in to and click on the Health & Wellness tab on the top right of your screen. Then select Join the Challenge.
Track your physical activity until June 30 to get your team—and your city—to the top of the leaderboard.
Ramp up the rivalry! Share your activities on social media and tag them with #TwinCitiesHealthyRivalry.

What’s the goal?

The city with the highest average of minutes tracked will be declared the winner—and the winning city will receive a challenge trophy (and bragging rights).

Move It and Improve It!

The first 100 to sign up get this awesome backpack!