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Liz Badalamenti: Your health is her concern

August 01, 2011

Liz Badalamenti spent eight years as a school nurse at Brimhall Junior High in Mesa, and in a sense, she’s still a school nurse.

But now, her charges are all grown up, and there are many more of them.

Badalamenti is ASU’s program nurse in the Employee Wellness Program, and her mission is to get you moving, eating healthy meals and taking care of your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight – and enjoying yourself as you do it.

“Research indicates that employees who are active are actually happier and more productive in the long run,” she said. "We’re trying to incorporate health into our employees’ daily practices.”

Badalamenti, who graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., and has worked as a health educator and counselor, coordinates a variety of classes in the Memorial Union on ASU's Tempe campus, such as yoga, stress management and smoking cessation, and helps with departmental health fairs and brings in outside speakers.

She also conducts medical screenings and will answer questions about health, doctors and general well-being by email or phone.

She will even tailor an event to a department and asks only that a minimum number of people participate.

Most of all, she wants YOU to rise from your desk chair, take a big stretch and walk. Somewhere.

It’s not easy to get some employees away from their desk, she said. “They feel they need to stay focused all day. But people who sit at their desks all day are at more risk for obesity.

“We started a walking program at USB, and I go 15 minutes before the walk to try to get people to join us,” she said. “But, usually, only about 10 people come.”

Badalamenti, who has been ASU’s program nurse for the past five years, said she wants to bring “excitement” to wellness. “I want to get upper management to promote exercise, even if it’s just once a week”

“People are eager,” she added. “But they need the support of their bosses. I see the same people or groups at many of the classes, and I would like a lot more people to participate. Their health is important enough to take the time.”

Unlike today’s doctors, who don’t make house calls, Badalamenti will take her show on the road and come to department offices to provide programs. She’s in sneakers most of the day as she walks between her office in The Towers to the Tempe campus, or to her car to visit another campus.

Whether the topic is skin care in the sun, which she recently discussed for employees of Parking and Transportation, or nutrition or diabetes, Badalamenti can either talk about it or find someone who’s an expert. “I have a lot of resources out there, such as Mayo Clinic,” she said. “I utilize as many people as I can here. We have a number of experts at ASU."

Some might question whether, in tight budget times, it’s necessary to have a program nurse, but Badalamenti said the investment pays off. “A healthier employee is a more productive one,” she said.

In her job at Brimhall Junior High, she saw approximately 11,000 children per year, and, she said, many of them were already beginning to experience the results of the ever-more sedentary American lifestyle.

“There were more medical issues, such as diabetes and obesity. Some kids had sore thumbs, even with blisters, from playing video games.”

At ASU, she has had employees who have discovered that they had high cholesterol from a screening, and even one male went to see his doctor after a campus screening revealed an abnormal PSA. He later had treatment for prostate cancer. “We have touched people’s lives,” Badalamenti said.

She enjoys working at ASU, she added, because “you can be positive here, and help people with their lives. I love encouraging people.”

So, if you have a question about nutrition or blood pressure, want a stress reduction class for your department, or want to get all your colleagues up and moving, just give Badalamenti a call. She’ll put on her sneakers, if she’s not already wearing them, and walk right over.