2021 Medical & Health Symposium – Get informed and inspired!

Register now for our virtual event April 8-10

By Debi Kroninger, Chief of Medical Operations

Each year at the conclusion of our annual Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium, I ask myself this question: How are we going to top this next year?

Without fail, I am floored every year by the impressive lineup of speakers who educate, inspire, and uplift our conference attendees and each other, including health care providers, attorneys, workers comp experts, and anyone else dedicated to improving the lives of injured workers.

I’m sure I’ll have that question again this year following our first-ever virtual Medical & Health Symposium April 8-10. COVID-19 precludes an in-person event this year, but my team worked hard to create a symposium that will be no less engaging or enlightening. Consider just a few of our topics and speakers:

  • The Neurobiology of Substance Use Disorder – Listen to Dr. Jon E. Sprague, the director of science and research for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. An Eminent Scholar at Bowling Green State University, Dr. Sprague will take a deep dive on drugs associated with substance use disorder.
  • When Life Blows Up: From Tragedy to Triumph – Overcoming tragedy and living a successful life after combat, burn survivor SSG (Ret) Shilo Harris and his wife/caregiver Jamie PK share their story of resilience and success after tragedy. They will share their story of successes and the many tools used to overcome extreme odds. Their goal is to share their outline of success for you to share with others and hopefully help them get back to living their lives.
  • From Dope to Hope: A Man in Recovery –This spellbinding presentation chronicles Tim Ryan’s journey through addiction and offers practical tools for prevention and recovery. Ryan will offer solutions that are non-opiate based for people struggling with substance use disorder and provide other methods and resources to get people on the road to recovery. He’ll be joined by his wife, actress Jennifer Gimenez-Ryan, who will share her personal and professional life story of addiction and recovery.

And more. Lots more, including clinical insights into COVID-19, preventing delayed recovery, violence in the workplace, and the power of human connection with bestselling author Jon Petz. After listening to Jon, you’ll appreciate the little moments that connect you with patients. You’ll leave with a different perspective on rendering care to injured workers.

In addition, we’re seeking continuing education for physicians, attorneys, psychologists, and many others.

All of this for the low, low price of FREE. Plus, you can enjoy it from the comfort and safety of your home or office.

In the end, you may not have the question that challenges me each year, but I’m confident you’ll feel uplifted and energized, leaving with this thought: This is why I do what I do.

For more information, including a full list of speakers, session topics, and registration information, be sure to check out the symposium’s website. You may also call our provider contact center at 1-800-644-6292, options 0-3-0, or email medsymposium@bwc.state.oh.us.

My role at BWC has changed during the pandemic — and I couldn’t be prouder

By Vern Davenport, Security Manager, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

I am not a doctor, a nurse, or health care provider of any kind, but I am saving lives and protecting the health of my fellow Ohioans.

I am but one player in our state’s continued battle to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m a critical player – I drive a truck. I work with my colleagues in BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) and with the state’s Emergency Operations Center to deliver ventilators, test kits, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care settings, hospitals, and front-line workers across our state.

Vern loads a pallet of air filters onto the BWC box truck. His pickups and destinations have been all over Ohio, including down Amish country gravel roads. “I kept an eye out for a horse and buggy to help get me out in case I went off the road,” Vern said with a laugh.

That’s not what I signed up for at BWC – as security manager, my role is the safety and security of all BWC buildings – but I couldn’t be prouder to serve in this role today. I’m even more proud to report this milestone: My SID colleagues and I just passed a huge milestone – delivering more than 3.5 million pieces of PPE and other essential equipment as we hit the one-year mark of COVID-19 in our lives. This includes face masks, protective gowns, face shields, sanitizer, pop-up testing equipment, and more.

I’m like many in our agency who pivoted in March 2020 to help our state defeat COVID-19 in any way we could. We’ve sent millions of masks to Ohio businesses, returned $8 billion in dividends to those same businesses, and lent our customer service specialists to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services when unemployment claims soared.

When the pandemic sent most of us home to telework, it freed me and others in SID to contribute in other ways.

Every state agency has representatives in Ohio’s Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates the COVID-19 response. BWC has been asked consistently to fill in the delivery gaps, so I’ve taken pallets of PPE and other supplies to every corner of the state, including viral test kits to Cleveland and equipment to build pop-up test sites in Cincinnati. On a run in late February, I dropped off 259,000 face masks in Cleveland on behalf of the Department of Aging.

For me, each delivery is a source of pride because I know how critical these items are to the health and safety of every Ohioan.

It’s not just the state agencies pulling together, though. Individuals and businesses throughout Ohio have stepped up. I’ve picked up gallons of hand sanitizer made at a Cleveland microbrewery and delivered it to a National Guard distribution center in Columbus. Another mission took me to a Columbus paper plant, which had shifted its production to making masks and donated them to the state. We truly are #InThisTogether.

I drove a box truck for a food distributor for 14 years, so this “new” role isn’t so new to me. The only difference now is I wear a tie every day, as I’ve always done since joining BWC in 1994. I like wearing it and the professionalism it brings. The folks at the warehouses I frequent shout, “Hey, it’s The Tie Guy!”

Whenever Vern Davenport makes regular warehouse pickups in the box truck, the folks always shout, “Hey, it’s The Tie Guy!” Vern hasn’t stopped wearing a tie since his first day on the job at BWC in 1994, and he’s definitely the most well-dressed delivery guy in the Emergency Operations Center.

That kind of lighthearted banter is what we all need. The pandemic’s emotional toll is every bit as concerning as the physical, and it’s important we lift each other up. So no matter where I go, I smile. I ask how people are and thank them for the job they’re doing.

For many of us in state government, the pandemic has redefined what we do and how we do it. I could not be prouder to get behind the wheel and represent BWC in this noble work.

Vern Davenport is the security manager for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, overseeing the safety and security of all BWC buildings statewide. He first joined the agency as a security contractor in 1994 and was hired as an employee in 2004.

Prevent COVID-19 spread through HVAC improvements

Indoor Air Quality focus of March 3 webinar

By Jeff Hutchins, MS, CIH, Regional Loss Prevention Manager

We all know a mask, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning can weaken the spread of COVID-19. So can improvements to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

How to do that in a smart, step-wise fashion will be the subject of a free webinar we’re hosting from 2-3:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, in partnership with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Employers and building owners wanting to improve their indoor air quality will benefit from this webinar.

In the age of COVID-19, indoor air quality, or IAQ, has taken on a whole new dimension. Since the virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air, maintaining safe and healthy IAQ becomes a vital link in preventing the disease. It also reduces the risk of other indoor health concerns. (IAQ, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.)

Register for the webinar here.  (We will also offer the webinar during our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo  March 10-11.)

Topics covered include:

  • Increasing outside air and room (or building) air exchanges.
  • Improving central HVAC filtration.
  • Using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration to enhance central HVAC system air cleaning, particularly in high risk areas.
  • Deploying ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) as a supplement where increased ventilation and/or filtration options are limited.

The webinar also details BWC’s COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program. This federally funded program originally targeted nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult day centers, but we are expanding the program to include the following:

  • Intermediate care facilities.
  • Hospices.
  • Senior centers.
  • Adult care facilities.
  • Waiver settings (group homes).
  • Substance use treatment centers.

For more on IAQ, I encourage you to check out these resources: