Like other self-insured employers, Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing is addressing rising health care costs and looking to create a healthier workforce through our comprehensive benefit program. Our strategy includes proactive treatment and programs to help increase worker productivity, enhance the health and satisfaction of our associates and even attract and retain talent.
At Toyota, one of our core values is respect for people — our associates are our No. 1 asset. Our Columbus, Indiana, facility is a world-class forklift manufacturer, and our roughly 1,300 associates at this location are involved in not only assembly, but also painting, machining and a variety of other manufacturing operations. We rely on our associates every day, and in order to ensure they have what they need to do great work, we are continually looking for ways we can provide them with valuable, affordable and convenient benefits.
This philosophy is what led us to create a comprehensive benefit offering that combines wellness initiatives with on-site health care. We believe that providing the resources to stay healthy is just as important as providing access to care. Our wellness program includes access to a fitness center where associates can take classes and maintain their health, a focus on healthy eating options in our cafeteria and vending machines and a program where therapists evaluate associates' jobs and make recommendations on how they can avoid injury during their work. We also provide a health coach that works with employees to encourage healthy behaviors and who works closely with the providers in our on-site health center.
When we opened our health center in 2008 for associates and their families, we incorporated comprehensive services, including primary care, urgent care and physical and occupational therapy. Just last year we opened a full pharmacy. Rather than traveling 20 or 30 minutes into town to get treatment for a health issue or to pick up a prescription, associates can walk across the street and get the care or medication they need. We've seen a 97 percent satisfaction rate among patient survey respondents, and the number of new patients utilizing the health center has continued to increase year over year.
From an employer standpoint, the convenience and satisfaction among associates translates into increased associate well-being and productivity. We've found that the easy access to care encourages associates to better tend to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. Traveling to a doctor's appointment during working hours would require taking time off, and finding a provider available outside of working hours can be a challenge. Both of these can decrease the likelihood that a person might seek needed follow-up care. By having a health care facility, pharmacy and providers on site, associates can easily visit with a physician during their work day and get the followup care they need. Associates appreciate the convenience, and that's valuable to us.
Similarly, having a physical and occupational therapist on site allows associates to get regular treatment for injuries sustained on or off the job and to get care more quickly. On a day-to-day basis, we may have associates who are at risk for injury due to some repetitive processes involved in their work, and we are able to intervene much quicker if an injury does occur. Our therapists can coach them through exercises, stretches and other ways to help them avoid reinjury. Having a professional medical staff on site helps us address issues that come up in a timely manner and helps associates recover faster.
The health facility is also an asset for us when it comes to recruiting and is something that sets us apart from other employers. Having associates take advantage of the services and build bonds with their providers certainly helps with retention as well, in addition to affecting their overall health. Having a full pharmacy, medical staff and physical therapy staff available at a low cost to associates is something we heavily promote and that has been a significant benefit for us.
Respect for associate well-being is part of who we are at Toyota and having a comprehensive health benefit program has allowed us to fulfill that mission and provide a valuable benefit to our associates. Focusing on associate well-being allows us to remain competitive and help our associates stay healthy.
For more information on how Toyota employees are benefitting from on-site health care, read their recent Client Achievement story here.