It’s one thing to wish health and wellbeing for employees. It’s quite another to make it literally part of your company.

That’s what Discovery, Inc. did back in 2004 when it opened its first wellness center as part of its Silver Spring, Maryland, headquarters. It wasn’t just a shiny penny for the brand new building it had built, with the company going on to open centers in New York, London, Miami and Northern Virginia. Following last year’s Scripps Networks acquisition, Discovery plans to open a new wellness and fitness center in Knoxville in June.

The centers provide everything from primary care/urgent care appointments to lab work, skin cancer screenings and mental health counseling. And they’re available not just to full and part-time employees, but to their dependents over the age of 12 as well. Care is provided by medical practitioners from Discovery’s partner, Premise Health.

“We’ve had situations where we have saved lives,” says Discovery Chief People & Culture Officer Adria Alpert Romm. Discovery’s practitioners have diagnosed cancer, heart conditions and pregnancies. And they are also there to help employees through illnesses. One former employee was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 and told she’d have to wait at least four weeks for an appointment. Instead, she got immediate attention from Discovery’s wellness center.

“During my treatment, I found much support from Discovery’s Lifeworks Team. This amazing group provides employees with so many valuable resources on a daily basis including a life coach, nutritionist, on-site wellness centers, fitness reimbursements among several other things, which support the personal wellbeing of employees,” she says. “I am grateful to have these options as an employee but I was even more appreciative when they were still available to me during my leave.”

While there is an expense in creating these centers, they also present a savings to Discovery as they ultimately decrease the company’s insurance costs. “If you go to a doctor at Discovery and your doctor is your primary care physician, Discovery doesn’t get charged through the insurance company,” notes Alpert Romm. Though she’s quick to add cost-savings is not the reason for the facilities.

“Having the wellness centers on-site at our various corporate centers enables people to take care of problems before they become big problems,” Dr Liz Sequeira explained in a video celebrating the anniversary of the centers.

With that mindset, Discovery has expanded its wellness offerings aimed at stress management and mental health. In 2017, the company launched a Mental Health toolkit that includes support resources for employees and their families. It also offers on-site exercise programs that range from yoga to boot camp.

Ultimately, Discovery’s philosophy is special people deserve special care.

–Amy Maclean

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