Convicted of fraud, nurse ordered to pay BWC $23K in restitution

Felony conviction for Shaker Heights woman

A Cleveland-area nurse was ordered to pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $23,000 in restitution April 7 after BWC discovered her working while collecting injured-worker benefits.

A Franklin County judge ordered Tanya Houston, 46, of Shaker Heights to pay $23,489 to BWC and serve five years of probation in lieu of a one-year prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.

“We’re here to provide compensation for people who can’t work because of an on-the-job injury, not supplement the income of fraudsters cheating our system,” said BWC Interim Administrator John Logue. According to BWC’s Special Investigations Department, Houston was working as a therapeutic program nurse when she injured herself in June 2019. As she collected disability benefits from BWC for the injury, she continued to work for a second employer without informing BWC, the employer where her injury occurred, or her physician and other treatment providers.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

Hazard communication training made easy

By Cari Gray, CSP, BWC Safety Consultant Specialist

If you’ve hired new employees, have people taking on new roles, or you’re working with new chemicals in the workplace, it’s time to refresh your hazard communication training.

What pops into your mind when you think of hazard communication training? Painfully dry, long videos and PDF documents? Employees staring blankly, almost dozing off?

Or maybe you’re thinking of an awesome four-part micro training video series with a training guide and knowledge assessment. I’m happy to tell you that’s just what we’ve added to our Ohio BWC YouTube channel for you! 

You heard (or read) me right! We’re offering an easier way to start your hazard communication training. These videos range from 3-5 minutes (meant to keep the attention of even the most scattered “squirrel”) and cover the basics of hazard communication. We also created a training guide and knowledge assessment that can be your friend in guiding and documenting training.  

I could write pages and pages on this this, but in the spirit of these micro videos, I will sign off and keep this to the point. Remember, these were created with you in mind by your Ohio BWC Safety friends. Try it out today and feel free to add questions to your in-house knowledge assessment. 

You can watch all four videos below:

Remember – keep it simple, keep it safe, and keep it interesting. You can make a great impact in safety!

Online Medical & Health Symposium is a big success!

Virtual symposium breaks registration records

By John Annarino, Chief Medical and Health Officer  

Together, we did it. We appreciate the thousands of attendees who joined us worldwide for our first-ever virtual Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium this past Thursday through Saturday.

By going virtual, registration increased by nearly five times our 2019 in-person symposium.

I am elated, what an incredible response! We are thrilled that more than 4,800 health care and legal professionals from 45 states and 11 countries registered to attend our three-day conference.

Continuing education

This year we had another first – we offered continuing education for 16 health care professions, an increase of six from 2019.  In addition, we continued offering continuing legal education for our inter-disciplinary conference. Experts worldwide are learning about our innovative approaches and programs in caring for Ohio’s workers. Here’s our symposium’s brochure, event guide, and blogs.

Our symposium also expanded by offering three educational tracks – the provider staff forum (Thursday morning), our first ever, vocational rehabilitation workshop (Thursday afternoon), and the provider clinical education (Friday and Saturday). Our medical and claims policy experts teamed up to present at our staff forum for medical staff members and administrators.  

Combat burn survivor SSG (Ret) Shilo Harris and his wife/caregiver Jamie PK shared their story of resilience and success after tragedy.

Governor Mike DeWine kicked off the symposium virtually each day welcoming our attendees and thanking them for their service to all Ohioans. Training Officer Amanda Tedrick emceed the event and introduced the speakers.

Saturday’s clinical education speakers included two physician brothers, Joseph Choo, M.D., and Michael Choo, M.D., who discussed COVID-19 clinical insights and updates. They reiterated that getting vaccinated will help Ohio reach herd immunity, which may decrease the prevalence of COVID-19 for all of us. They also noted the importance of continuing to wear our masks and practicing social distancing.

During our symposium breaks, attendees visited our exhibitors and viewed their videos, answered BWC trivia questions, and watched additional content information in short video segments. Some of them included Navigating our Provider Page, injured worker return-to-work stories, and Getting to Know our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bradley Lewis.

Interim Administrator/CEO John Logue closed the symposium each day with dialogue between the final session’s speakers and offered related information about BWC initiatives.

Thank you!

Along with our Chief of Medical Operations Debi Kroninger and other Medical and Health Division leaders and team members, I would like to offer a special thanks to our exceptional speakers, volunteers, and participants for assisting in this unique, multi-disciplinary event that we offer at no cost to attendees.

This will definitely have an impact on the ways our industry and providers take care of injured workers. I’m deeply proud of all involved.

South Point Village adds new safety equipment for first responders, takes great strides improving safety program

By Roger Hoback, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist

When posed with the question of how to use their portion of the $5 billion dividend that BWC sent to private and public employers in late 2020, South Point Village decided to put safety first. South Point Mayor Jeff Gaskin told BWC that the village’s portion of the dividend was primarily used to purchase automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) for police, fire, and village personnel.

With the AEDs, village first responders and personnel will be able to provide medical services faster, with hope to save more lives. Police and fire departments sometimes beat emergency medical services to the scene of a medical emergency. They can use the AEDs to begin the potentially lifesaving process faster.

Each police car will now have an AED onboard.  The village hall and sewer plant will also have an AED onsite.

South Point village didn’t stop at AEDs. Mayor Gaskin said the village also used funds from the dividend to purchase three new chainsaws for the fire department and four new chainsaws for the police department to be used for emergency response. They also purchased backup generators for village essential services.

South Point Village has been taking strides to make its community safer, even before these recent purchases. They’re partnering with three of us from the Portsmouth loss prevention team to improve their safety and health programs and become more self-sufficient. I’ve been helping them review written safety programs and policies, review safety training programs, conduct safety walk-through inspections of village operations, and conduct virtual safety training for utility department employees.

Ergonomist Greg Nartker has been helping with job-specific ergonomic evaluations and review of equipment options to reduce future work-related musculoskeletal disorder type injuries. Industrial Hygienist Devin Keplinger is helping with air monitoring in confined spaces and training.

The village has also taken advantage of two different BWC safety grants. In the past year, they applied for and received nearly $20,000. With a Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant, the village purchased a washer for turnout gear, structural firefighter gloves, and Nomex hoods for members of its fire department. Also, with a Trench Safety Grant, they purchased an aluminum shoring box for their village employees performing trenching and excavation work. These employees also trained in trenching and excavation safety.

South Point Village has also been an active member of the Lawrence County Safety Council. 

Working with employers like South Point Village is the most rewarding part of my job. With all their efforts, there is no question that the safety and health of the village’s employees, first responders, and citizens is top priority.

BWC’s Medical & Health Symposium starts today

Earn free continuing education  

By Debi Kroninger, Chief of Medical Operations

Our virtual 2021 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium kicks off today!

Join more than 4,000 registrants from around the world for three days of educational sessions designed to inform, inspire, and even entertain health care providers, their staffs, legal professionals, and people in the workers’ compensation industry.

For your review, here’s our symposium brochure and event guide.

It’s not too late to register for the free event, themed, “Comprehensive Care for Injured Workers.” You can register on any day of the symposium, but the sooner you register, the more you will learn about today’s most pressing health and medical issues facing all of us.

Three tracks, three days

I’m confident this symposium will be the best one ever!

It includes 16 sessions led by state and national experts on health and medical topics that affect all of us— at work and at home. It offers continuing-education opportunities with credits for many health care and legal professionals.

Our symposium features a Provider Staff Forum (Thursday morning), a Vocational Rehabilitation Workshop (Thursday afternoon), and a two-day Provider Clinical  Education track (Friday and Saturday). In addition, we can’t wait to connect you with our exhibitors! You may virtually visit our exhibitors during your breaks.

Today’s Provider Staff Forum highlights an overview of basic tools and resources for managing the day-to-day operations of workers’ compensation processes and workflows. This afternoon, our Vocational Rehabilitation Workshop features Linda Hedenblad, MSE, CRC, MINT, speaking on ethical decision making and resilience for anyone interested in these vital topics in today’s world. 

Vision

Our 2021 symposium brings medical and health specialists together with legal professionals to learn how we can better solve far-reaching issues. These include where medical and legal intersect, substance abuse disorder, COVID-19 clinical insights, violence in the workplace, delayed recovery, return to work, and multi-disciplinary treatment programs. 

Friday and Saturday’s Provider Clinical Education sessions cover the latest topics impacting patient care and providers.

Triumph, recovery, and human connection 

In addition, you don’t want to miss our inspiring stories of triumph and recovery. On Friday morning, burn survivor SSG (Ret) Shilo Harris and his wife/caregiver Jamie PK will share their story of resilience and success following serious combat injuries.

Saturday morning, Tim Ryan, founder of A Man in Recovery Foundation, and his wife, actress Jennifer Gimenez-Ryan, are sharing their personal and professional life stories of addiction and recovery. Later that day, two physician brothers, Joseph Choo, M.D., and Michael Choo, M.D., will review COVID-19 insights from their clinical perspectives.

Closing out the symposium is bestselling author Jon Petz, CSP, discussing the power of human connection with your patients. If you have questions, email medsymposium@bwc.state.oh.us.

Together, join us in our journey of providing innovative and quality health care focused on Ohio’s injured workers, their families, and communities. We look forward to seeing you virtually today through Saturday at our 2021 Medical & Health Symposium!

New facilities eligible for indoor air quality funding

Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot about COVID-19, including the impact indoor air quality (IAQ) has on the spread of COVID-19. That’s why we’re so proud to offer the COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program. The program started in December 2020 and has received over 700 applications so far.

Because of the success of the program and the positive feedback we’ve received, we’ve decided to expand the number of eligible facilities. Previously, the program was limited to nursing homes, assisted living centers, and adult day centers. We’ll now include:

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

With the inclusion of these new facilities, we’ll be able to protect additional vulnerable Ohioans. If your facility falls under one of these categories, we encourage you to apply today. The program offers up to $15,000 in reimbursement to inspect heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, assess air quality needs, and make improvements through maintenance, increased filtration, portable air cleaners, and other interventions.

If you’ve made any improvements to your HVAC systems throughout the pandemic, we encourage you to apply. The program will reimburse costs incurred from March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Applications are open until June 30, 2021.

Not an eligible facility?

If your facility doesn’t fall under one of these categories to qualify for funding, don’t worry, we have resources for you too. We know that maintaining safe and heathy IAQ is imperative to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so we’ve put together some resources your facility can use to learn more.

You can watch a recording of one of our IAQ webinars here:

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

Visit our website to apply now. You can also contact BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene or call 1-800-644-6292 with questions.