Helping people with dietary and nutritional needs has always been instilled in Vasu Thorpe, going back to her childhood days when her mother would change recipes to help decrease her father’s high cholesterol. When she figured out nutrition was an offered major at LSU, she was hooked and wanted to do this for the rest of her life.
Thorpe, who lives in Bluff Park, started a new wellness company 2 1/2 years ago with a coworker in the corporate wellness program at Chick-fil-A, and a recent decision by Blue Cross and Blue Shield to cover their services has given potential for the business to thrive.
Thorpe and Cody Jenkins, who lives in Atlanta, both saw a need in the business world to help employers improve their retention and to help employees perform better at work. The No. 1 goal of their company, called Cultivate Wellness, is to help people increase their energy for work and after-work activities.
“We started Cultivate Wellness because we’re passionate about helping people feel better during their workday,” Thorpe said. “We feel strongly that if people have better energy during their workday, then they have the energy to serve their communities and families once they get home. We saw people have a lack of energy in the workplace, and just companies wasting a lot of money every year because of lost productivity.”
Cultivate Wellness can set up many different programs with businesses and their employees. Some of the programs include lunch and learn sessions, wellness seminars, one-on-one nutrition counseling, fitness assessments and coordination of wellness programs.
Thorpe said instead of having a plan for a group of people, Cultivate Wellness wants to individualize the programming for each person, even if that includes bringing in extra help.
“If any of the businesses that we work with are interested in having a therapist or exercise or fitness piece, we have contractors for those pieces,” Thorpe said. “We do believe that wellness goes beyond nutrition. There’s a mental health aspect of it, and then there’s a fitness/exercise aspect of it. We try to see what the employers need, really individualize their programming and then get the people in place to get them what they need.”
As of January, nutrition counseling is now covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, which opened up its network to dieticians. Cultivate Wellness has gone through the credentialing process to be able to have visits covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Thorpe said this opens up opportunities for people to get this service at no cost.
“Anybody who has a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama plan can meet with us up to three hours per calendar year, and it’s covered 100 percent with no copay or deductible to be met,” she said. “People can do that individually, or they can do it through their employer.”
Businesses can take advantage of this opportunity by allowing Thorpe and Cultivate Wellness to meet with the employees during the workday and also have a private office to meet with the employees.
Nutrition counseling is where the change starts to happen within the programs, Thorpe said. That’s where Cultivate Wellness sees people come off diabetes medication, lower their blood pressure and lose weight.
Thorpe said she wants to show businesses that Cultivate Wellness is different than most wellness programs.
“We’ve seen mundane wellness programming over the years like this one size fits all, and we realize it just doesn’t work,” she said. “Wellness programming needs to be individualized to the culture. When we work with an employer, we go in and do a needs assessment and learn [about] the people who work there, so we can make sure we’re meeting their needs, not just what we think their needs are.”
For more information, visit cultivatewellnessllc.com.