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2009 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Lee Memorial Health System

Winning Years: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Hospitals/Health care
Location: Fort Myers, Fla.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This year, Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS) makes its fifth straight appearance on AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. With 40 percent of its workers over age 50, Lee places an emphasis on training and work opportunities for older workers and volunteers. In its Older-Adult Services program, employees and volunteers can take classes, find information, and request referrals for aging services. The program also provides prescription-discount cards.

In addition, the Share Club at Lee Memorial offers health activities and resources to members. The program is free for members over age 50 and includes discounted meals in the cafeteria, 20 percent discounts in the gift shop, free health screenings, Medicare information and claims assistance, lectures, and exercise classes.

Recruiting: Lee Memorial Health System has developed a nurse-refresher program to recruit retired nurses back into the workforce; the program provides funding for courses at the local community college.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Lee Memorial Health System offers several learning and development opportunities, including tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Full- and part-time employees completing at least 16 hours of work weekly are eligible for the learning and development opportunities. In 2008, 61 percent of Lee Memorial's employees took part in at least one development opportunity, so the average employee completed four hours of training.

In addition, a new program connects a recently graduated nurse with a seasoned nurse who becomes a mentor. This allows older nurses the ability to work shorter, four-to-eight hour shifts, versus the normal 12-hour workday.

Lee Memorial recognizes long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards.

Responding to information it gathers by taking opinion surveys of its employees, Lee Memorial has organized free employee health clinics in its five hospital locations and a caregiver-support program that connects employees with care options for their aging family members.

Employees at Lee Memorial can gain new skills and experiences through temporary job assignments, team projects, and access to a formal job-rotation program.

The Transitional Work Program accommodates employees who may be temporarily or permanently disabled or are otherwise unable to perform their job duties.

Benefits/Health: Lee Memorial Health System offers the following health benefits to full- and part-time employees working at least 16 hours per week: employee and family medical and prescription-drug coverage, employee and family vision and dental insurance, employee and family long-term-care insurance, and short- and long-term disability. Lee Memorial offers retirees under and above age 65 medical and drug insurance for themselves and their spouses. Upon retirement, new hires are eligible for the retiree medical and prescription drug coverage.

At Lee Memorial, employees and family members receive discounted rates on health services at on-campus wellness centers. Lee also offers health flexible spending accounts (FSA) to help employees cover out-of-pocket medical costs.

Benefits/Financial: Lee Memorial Health System offers full- and part-time employees 403(b) and 457(b) retirement plans, with an employer match for full-time employees. All employees are automatically enrolled in the retirement plans and can choose to invest in life-cycle funds. Employees age 50+ are also able to make catch-up contributions. Other staff members, representatives of the financial-services firm that administers the retirement plan, and external financial-planning experts educate employees in financial planning. In addition, Lee Memorial

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