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Fighting cancer and boosting morale at Town & Country FCU

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While most credit unions offer extensive heath plans to full-time employees, many workers are forced to use their paid time off for medical-related appointments. But employees at Town & Country Federal Credit Union are provided a unique alternative: Free cancer screenings and the time off work to do it.

“The benefit was introduced to break down a significant barrier that we identified in preventing employees from getting screening for colon cancer – time off. To our knowledge, we are the only organization in our state offering this benefit,” said David Libby, president and CEO of the $390 million-asset credit union.

“We wanted to remove the barrier by offering paid time off for employees to get screened,” he added. “The original benefit of paid time off for colon cancer screening was introduced in April 2017 and was expanded to include paid time off for all cancer screenings in March 2019.”

Town & Country FCU’s forward-leaning cancer screening concept was generated internally and in association with the work the credit union does with the Maine Cancer Foundation, explained Libby. In 2015, MCF launched its “Challenge Cancer 2020” initiative. According to a press release, the foundation committed $15 million in an effort toward a 20% reduction in cancer incidence and mortality by 2020.

“By shifting our funding priorities away from research and towards reducing the impact cancer has on the state, we are investing directly in improving the health of every Mainer on a daily basis,” the release noted.

The Scarborough, Maine-based credit union supports nearly 40,000 members at six branch locations. Additionally, the credit unions employees 121 staff members. And in order to best serve membership, Libby said employees have to be as healthy as possible.

“We firmly believe that prevention and early detection are critical in fighting cancer,” said Libby. “We came up with the outline and presented it to our board, and our board fully supported it and approved the policy.”

To date, approximately 20 employees have taken advantage of cancer screening benefit. And Libby anticipates that number will continue to grow now that the benefit includes all cancer screenings. For privacy purposes, he added, the test is administered through human resources, and there are no related costs to the employee.

“We have had an employee use the benefit to get a colonoscopy, and though not diagnosed with colon cancer, another serious gastro-related illness was found in part as a result of having the colonoscopy,” recalled Libby. “The employee credits the benefit to getting the colonoscopy because of not having to worry about using vacation time to get it. The employee is back to work and thriving, and is very thankful for the benefit.”

While Libby said it is too early to determine the impact the cancer screenings will have on healthcare costs for all employees, he said it has made a difference for morale.

“It has been a strong tool to recruit and retain employees, which ultimately reduces human resources costs for our organization,” said Libby. “Our primary purpose for the benefit is to help our employees and encourage screenings to help prevent and detect cancer.”

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