DATE: April 26, 2022
TO: All Department and Agency heads
SUBJECT: Implementation of the Executive Branch’s FIT-TO-LEAD Health and Wellness Campaign
As we continue to endure in our nationwide battle against the COVID-19 virus, we must now face the additional challenge of adjusting the ways in which we live our daily lives so that we may transition into a “new normal.” Together, we have made free and accessible testing sites available for our community members, implemented necessary safety restrictions and guidelines throughout schools, workplaces, and businesses, and have successfully achieved a 99.9% fully vaccinated rate for all eligible residents of the CNMI. And while we continue to put forth our best efforts toward controlling the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community, the ongoing pandemic reminds us that the health and wellness of each CNMI government employee is essential to our government’s productivity and our community’s collective wellbeing and quality of life.
As we are well aware, many recent studies have shown that the health and wellness of our CNMI people continue to be adversely affected by unhealthy lifestyle practices such as poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, increased stress levels, and obesity. Healthcare costs and more importantly, mortality rates continue to rise in our Commonwealth, largely due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. These chronic diseases can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle practices such as getting regular check-ups, seeking advice and treatment from medical healthcare professionals and counselors, and engaging in physical fitness and wellness activities. Similarly, vaccinations and regular COVID-19 testing for our citizens and residents can assist us in containing the spread of the virus and protect us from its severe and life- threatening effects.
For these reasons, I am determined to implement workplace wellness initiatives to support these important endeavors. By means of these initiatives, my Administration hopes to demonstrate the major short-term and long-term benefits that can be gained by our government workforce, its employees, and our community as a whole, when our health and wellness is prioritized and supported.
Accordingly, under the authority of this Directive, I hereby direct the following:
1. Beginning the week of May 2, 2022, all Executive Branch employees of the Commonwealth Government may take Administrative Leave for no more than two hours per week to conduct personal health and wellness-related activities.
Personal health and wellness-related activities include the following:
a. Vaccinations for COVID-19
b. Testing for COVID-19
c. Appointments with Healthcare Professionals such as physicians and counselors d. Screening checks
e. Physical fitness and wellness activities
Official time-keepers must ensure that proper time-keeping is enforced and in compliance with all CNMI Office of Personnel Management policies and regulations.
The CNMI Office of Personnel Management shall provide assistance and guidance to the Office of the Governor and all Departments and Agencies concerning time- keeping and other related matters concerning this directive and its initiatives.
2. Each Department and Agency head shall designate at least one Health Coach for their respective department or agency. These designated Health Coaches shall spearhead their department or agency’s Fitness and Wellness Plan which shall include short and long-term objectives and an Implementation Strategy which safeguard the continuous and effective delivery of essential government services while championing these critical initiatives. All Department and Agency Fitness and Wellness Plans must be submitted to the Office of the Governor by April 29, 2022.
3. All Departments and Agencies must ensure that physical and mental fitness and wellness activities are promoted and afforded to all Executive Branch employees. These initiatives shall be given reasonable support to allow each department and agency to successfully execute and sustain their respective programs.
I am excited to embark on and support this journey with all of you and I look forward to witnessing the positive effects that these initiatives will have on the overall health and wellness of the Executive Branch and our entire Commonwealth.
RALPH DLG. TORRES