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Tricon Timber workers get preventive health care

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Apr 12 2013 10:54:37 PM MDT
ST. REGIS, Mont. -

Tricon Timber mill workers in St. Regis may be getting more preventive health care.

It's a local effort to keep health care services as close to home as possible.

St. Regis opened a new clinic recently.

Tricon's partnered with Mineral Community Hospital and the Mineral Regional Health Center.

Many mill workers discovered they're not as healthy as they'd like.

Tricon mill and planer employees do hard, physical work.

Most look to be in good shape.

Thirty-eight-year-old Ryan Mintz looks the picture of health.

But he's on medication.

"High blood pressure," said Mintz,"part of my heart's bad."

Caffeine pills that Ryan took to stay alert on night shift may have caused it.

He talks to Tricon's safety director at a picnic and health fair for mill workers.

Stacey Neill said many workers don't eat right.

"They drink a lot of energy drinks," said Neill, "which has been linked to heart attacks and high blood pressure."

Neill said if heavy equipment operators don't get exercise off work they are at risk of muscle and back injuries.

And there are bad habits.

"Probably 70% of our employees chew or smoke," said Neill.

Tricon Timber employs about 150 workers.

80% are men.

20% are women.

They range in age from their late teens to their early 60's.

In March, 75 of Tricon's 150 workers had their blood drawn.

At least 10 to 15 of them were found to be at risk of high cholesterol and glucose.

"We caught them and some of their disease processes we might not have caught for another 12 or 15 years,"said Mineral Regional Center's Dr. Roger Glenn Pafford.

One spouse had type 2 diabetes.

"One of the things we wanted to do was bring the families out,"
 said Mineral Community Hospital's chief operating officer.

It's hoped workers, especially young ones in their prime adopt good health habits for a lifetime.