ERN the Burn Event

On September 17th city employees gathered at Raspberry Island to learn a variety of ways to de-stress and were given a multitude of ideas on how to create more joy and happiness in our life. Presented by Kara Hirdman, our City of St. Paul ERN the BURN wellness coordinator, we were surrounded by the beauty of the Mississippi river and were offered practical steps to improve our health and wellbeing.

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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.


Councilmember Chris Tolbert

Chris Tolbert represents Ward 3, which includes Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland. First elected to office in 2011, Chris brought the Right Track youth program to Saint Paul in 2015.
Chris is a big advocate for the Saint Paul Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, which exists to eliminate domestic violence against women and their children, as well as the social and systems responses that condone or allow its oppression.

Chris and County Attorney John Choi started the Northland Cup Hockey Program, a charity hockey game, to raise money for the project 5 years ago.
Both Chris and John love to play hockey, so it seemed the perfect charity venue. The two competing teams are made up of City and County employees. The Mayor plays on the City team. There is a waiting list of employees hoping to be added to the team in the future.

The program raises charity funds from Saint Paul’s private businesses including Xcel Energy, Bremer Bank, and others including small businesses. The first year they raised about $10,000. This year they raised nearly $30,000. As a bonus, the City won! Chris says “This is a great way to have fun, be active AND do something good for others.”
Chris has always been an active guy. In addition to hockey he loves swimming, yoga and lifting. Chris says, “I love working out. That’s my release; my mental health. I work out every day, and would twice a day if I had time.”

His message to employees who have gotten away from being active over the years is “Find that activity you loved as a kid, when you were just a worry-free kid. Rediscovering something you loved to do is like getting to be a kid again.”

Learn more about the Saint Paul Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project here:

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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.


Lucas Swoboda

Lucas Swoboda is a firefighter for the City of Saint Paul. He oversees the fitness team for the fire department. He has worked for the city for 7 years.
Before becoming a firefighter, Luke was working in a law firm, studying to be a lawyer. His side job was as a gym trainer. Luke was encouraged to take both the Saint Paul and Minneapolis fire tests by a friend who was also a trainer. He eventually passed the test and got hired (though his friend didn’t!) Once Luke was working as a firefighter, he felt that “Everything sort of made sense.”

After being on the job for a few years, a peer fitness program was established. Luke was chosen with other fighter fighters who went through the ACE (American Council on Exercise) certification program. Luke became the lead trainer. A yearly, non-punitive physical assessment determines VO2 max, strength and endurance. The goals of the program are to ensure the firefighters are in shape, healthy, and work as a team.

He Is also the organizer of the stair climbing team, where teams climb high rises in competition. “Climbing season” is February – March. Towers include IDS (50 flights), Capella (52 flights), and US Bank (30 flights). The last two are climbed in full firefighting gear.

The best thing about Luke’s job is that it is real. He says, “I’m going into peoples’ lives, with their family and their loved ones, helping with what actually matters in life. I get to affect that in a very real way to make their lives better.” Luke adds “The physical part of the job is one of my favorite things about it. Getting to use my body in a healthy way has always been important, and now working out is part of my job.”

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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.


Jerome Benner II

Jerome Benner II is a city employee who works in DSI (Department of Safety and Inspections). Jerome has worked for the City for 5 years. He started as a temporary employee back in 2014 and has been a permanent employee for 4 years now. He was promoted in 2017 to be the staffer of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

All through high school and college, Jerome has played sports – football, basketball, and pretty much everything except hockey since he never learned to skate! He has always been healthy. A few years ago, he stopped working out and kind of tapered off being as active. He first gained 5 pounds and thought “eh, no big deal”. Then he was up 10 pounds, then 20. His “aha” moment was when the clothes he bought for his new job beginning of 2017 didn’t fit him by the end of 2018. This motivated Jerome to start living a healthy lifestyle and lose the extra weight he had gained.

Jerome started the Whole-30 diet, which got him off to a great start. The diet taught him how to read labels and be smart about what he consumes. Although Whole-30 helped him, he started gaining back the weight again once he stopped.

At that point he worked with a health coach through Healthy Saint Paul who helped him make small changes to his diet and activities.

Jerome has lost exactly 22 pounds within 6 months this past year. His weight loss has made feel good about himself. He feels lighter and has more energy to do things. He is still working towards his goals right now, staying on track to maintain his good health.

One of the tools Jerome is currently using is intermittent fasting. He does not begin eating until noon, aiming to wrap up eating by 8 pm. This has taught him how to regulate his cravings. He also goes on nightly walks and works out consistently to maintain a healthy weight.

Another big tool that has been helpful for Jerome is his Apple watch. His watch is like a positive reinforcement to him which helps him stay on track in achieving his goals of losing weight. The Apple watch keeps track of all his workouts and his walks, it also helps remind him when he hasn’t been active for a while.

Jerome stated, “It’s been good working for the City. Working downtown I’m able to go to the gym at lunch.”

Jerome’s message to folks on the same journey is “It’s never too late to start. Focus on the long-term goal. You will slip up, but be kind to yourself because it can be tough. Also having support or asking for support from your family/ friends can be very helpful.”

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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!


The Capital City Wind Ensemble

We are a concert band made up of city, county, and other downtown employees and practice on Thursdays 12-1 in the court house basement. Currently, we have more retired members than actively working members so would like to recruit more people. We accept anyone who can play an instrument and there are no auditions to join. In fact, most of us haven’t played for 10+ years before joining. All you need to do is show up to Thursday lunch hour rehearsals and you can join us.

The band is conducted by Roger Grupp (public works) and Mary Livingston (Parks and Rec), both retirees of Saint Paul. We perform 7-10 times a year at various places around the city such as Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse, the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Rice Park, Mears Park, Kellogg Blvd, Landmark center, court house lobby, and nursing homes. Most of these concerts are during the lunch hour 12-1pm so we don’t have to take any time off work.

The Capital City Wind Ensemble was founded by the legendary Max Metzger in 2002. The ensemble consists of City and Ramsey County employees and retirees, plus other Downtown St. Paul and University of Minnesota workers, and a few friends, too.

The CCWE is always looking for new members, find out more at