Go beyond resolutions with Better You, Better Ohio!

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Now that we’re nearly a month into 2019, we’re curious how people are doing on their New Year’s resolutions.

Some folks may be following it to varying degrees, some may have abandoned theirs (no judgment here) and some may not have come up with theirs (hey, it isn’t like procrastination is illegal).

No matter which of these groups you fall in, our Better You, Better Ohio!™ health and wellness program for Ohio’s workforce may be an option for you. If you’re eligible, you’ll have access to:

  • Free health assessment and biometric screening.
  • Disease management and health coaching.
  • Monetary incentives for participating and more!

More than 5,000 people have already taken advantage of the program! Want to see if you’re eligible? Visit the Better You, Better Ohio! webpage to learn more about eligibility requirements and request to enroll.

Even if you’re not eligible to apply, ActiveHealth Management – our partner in offering the Better You, Better Ohio! program – has many free health and wellness resources. This includes items like a monthly newsletter and regularly scheduled webinars covering a variety of health and wellness topics.

If you’re already passionate about health and wellness, you could become a wellness champion in your workplace. We’ve also partnered with ActiveHealth to create a Wellness Champion Guide to assist in making your workplace healthier.

To bring this full circle, resolutions can be a way start down a path to health and wellness. Better You, Better Ohio! can help you make health and wellness a permanent mindset. Have questions about the program? Send an email to BWCBetterYouBetterOhio@bwc.state.oh.us.

One year in, Better You, Better Ohio!™ is improving workers’ health, well-being

By Kristen Dickerson, Ph.D., BWC Health and Wellness Manager

Great news from the Better You, Better Ohio!™ program office! More people are now eligible to get paid to get healthy.

We expanded the program to include all injured workers regardless of comorbidity status and any employer with less than 150 employees. This expansion means more Ohio workers can participate in the program and improve their health. As of today, there are 4,220 Ohio workers enrolled in the program. However, by the time you read this, that number will have grown.

This expansion has also allowed us to schedule on-site biometric screening events at employer locations, as we require at least 30 participants to schedule an on-site event. I’m pleased to report we visited nine employers and provided 442 screenings to employees of Ohio’s small businesses in 2018. This all took place the last two days of November and December!

We already have 22 on-site screening events scheduled for the 2019 program year, with more and more employers finding out about the program. Ohio employers clearly value their workers and understand that keeping them healthy is important to the growth of business.

That’s smart. Current research* shows the importance of employers considering their workers’ base health to maintain a healthy and productive workforce. And that’s our goal with this one-of-a-kind program: to support the Total Worker Health concept. Anything an employer can do to support a healthy workforce benefits both employees and the company.

On-site screenings going well

So far, the on-site screening events have gone smoothly for employers and their employees. BWC partners with ActiveHealth Management to handle the enrollment, registration and scheduling for the employer. Employers only need to supply a little information and select a time and date for their on-site event. We handle setting up and running the screening, only taking employees from their workstations for 10-15 minutes. Feedback from employers has been positive. One employer stated, “This was a great opportunity with little effort on our part. Programs like this make it easy to show employees how much we care about them.”

Our partnership with ActiveHealth also allows us to offer the Better You, Better Ohio! portal, where participants can track their rewards and health from year to year. It also offers health information, allowing every employee to tailor the program to their needs.

Success stories abound

ActiveHealth has reported many Better You, Better Ohio! successes. We have already heard stories about:

  • Participant weight loss.
  • Improvements in physical activity.
  • Improvements in heart health.
  • And participants sharing information with their families.

We would love to see more people participating and getting healthy! Join us by helping to get the word out to more workers and employers who could benefit from the program. It’s free and the benefits are priceless.

We value your overall well-being and encourage you to remember your health is the most important thing you have. If you are interested in the program, visit the Better You, Better Ohio! webpage, or visit the Better You, Better Ohio! portal to sign up today!

*The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Top 5 posts of 2018

Another year is coming to a close! It’s been our pleasure to share a wide range of topics with you in 2018.

In 115 posts, we covered topics ranging from driving safety and return-to-work stories to our Ohio State Fair booth and conference activities. As always, Fridays are set aside to share fraud related updates. Whatever the topic, we appreciate your readership!

Just in case you missed them, here are the most popular posts from 2018:

  1. Look out for our deer friends on the road
  2. OSC18 – The postgame wrap-up
  3. Back-to-school safety tips for drivers as distracted pedestrian numbers rise
  4. Ohio State Fair tickets up for grabs!
  5. AASCIF 2018: Connecting with industry peers and experts

If there are topics you’d like to read about in 2019, we want to hear from you. Just leave a comment on this post and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

For now, we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Beyond the costs of an injury

By Mark Leung, BWC Technical Medical Specialist,
Recently promoted from the BWC Safety & Hygiene Fellowship program

Occupational health and safety has been a public health focus for many years. Emphasizing worker protection and well-being advances the overall goal of reducing negative health outcomes in the future. The need to address health disparities within the working population is paramount to public health practitioners. In doing so, there have been many discussions about the actual costs of an injury or illness. However, is there a true quantifiable cost an occupational injury or illness creates?

We typically link occupational injuries and illnesses with their financial burden in the form of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs of an injury or illness relates to the medical treatment and rehabilitation of the worker, workers’ compensation costs and legal expenses. Indirect costs may include: lost productivity, training and compensating replacement workers, repairing damaged property, low employee morale, poor community relations, reputation, penalties, etc. The indirect costs of injuries and illnesses vary widely, and may be up to 20 times higher than direct costs.1

These costs are usually in the economic frame of reference for the employer. However, we must not lose sight of the social costs of an occupational injury or illness on the individual, community and societal level. Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, the worker’s quality of life suffers on the individual level. Quality of life goes beyond physical limitations, such as psychological well-being, social interactions and other non-work activities. In some cases, the diminished quality of life is a permanent reality as it influences the worker’s health behaviors and health trajectory for the rest of their lives.

Additionally, the lasting effect of the injury or illness can cause a ripple in an individual’s network. The quality of life for family members and friends may be diminished if they are involved in social interactions and the caregiving process with the affected worker. Even as part of their profession, caregivers and medical professionals carry a burden as a part of the treatment and rehabilitation portion of the process. Every social factor the worker experiences influences the community level in some shape or form. The summation of social costs may influence societal systems, including:

  • Stressing social safety nets;
  • Changing retirement trends;
  • Shaping laws and regulations;
  • Use of medical resources;
  • Changing population health outcomes.

The societal level offers us a call for action in the form of prevention, rather than a reactive approach.

The burden of an occupational injury or illness does not just fall on a worker and the employer. It is truly a social issue that has an impact on multiple layers of society. While it may be difficult to quantify a complete cost of an occupational injury or illness, our efforts to proactively address workplace risks and safeguard worker well-being as public health practitioners remain. Thus, it is ever so important to embrace occupational health and safety beyond the workplace.

1 Source: ASSE

Return to Work – Yes You Can!

Brain Injury Association of Ohio’s TBI Summit Panel Discussion

By Jeff Buffer, MA, CRC, BWC Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor

I had the opportunity to participate in the Brain Injury Association of Ohio’s TBI Summit held at OSU’s Fawcett Center last month.  The conference’s goal was to help persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI), their families, and providers learn strategies that can help with community and work re-entry during recovery from a brain injury. The summit included information about brain injury treatment, services and therapies that can assist with those goals.

Brain injury survivor panel member

BWC’s Nurse Director Mary Charney, BSN, RN, and I co-presented in a panel titled, Return to Work-Yes You Can! Kara Moore, an Ohio Health speech and language pathologist, also joined us. Kara shared tips for working with employers of persons with a brain injury and she shared her perspective as a brain injury survivor after a motor vehicle accident and the challenges she experienced during her return to work.

Some tips she shared included following advice from doctors and therapists as to how much a person can do when they first attempt to go back to work after a brain injury, and letting the employer know about issues the worker with a brain injury is having and how they might be addressed. This could include being assigned a lighter work load initially or having a coworker help with more complex tasks.

Kara also talked about going back to work gradually and taking frequent rest breaks as needed. She mentioned types of job site modification that can be done to help with symptoms of a brain injury, such as changing the type of overhead or desk lighting in a work setting.

Preventing injuries, case management

Mary, who has extensive health-care experience in occupational medicine, presented on the importance of BWC’s injury prevention programs as they relate to reducing the number of brain injuries. BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene offers statewide safety awareness campaigns for slips, trips and falls, safety education and training programs, and safety grants that assist employers to purchase equipment designed to reduce workplace hazards.

She also discussed the importance of medical case management and care coordination, especially during the acute phase of care and rehabilitation. Patients with catastrophic injuries see multiple specialists and are faced with many complex decisions.  It’s the catastrophic case manager’s role to help the patient navigate confusing and complex health instructions and appointments and ensure the lines of communication remain open between the patient, family, providers and others involved in the case.

Medical management’s goal is to return every injured worker back to his or her optimal level of function, maximum quality of life and return him or her to work when possible.

Vocational rehabilitation in workers’ compensation

My presentation, drawing from over 30 years of vocational rehabilitation experience, included eligibility for services, when a person with a TBI might be ready to participate, and which services are considered the most effective when working with persons with brain injuries and employers. We discussed Information about being ready for vocational rehabilitation services for persons with brain injuries, plus the challenges they face, including a lack of understanding by employers and coworkers about brain injuries and accommodating the TBI employee’s needs.

Services that make a difference

Other challenges include identifying providers who have a knowledge of working with persons who have a brain injury. Some positives included vocational rehabilitation can develop specialized plan services to meet the TBI worker’s unique needs, and these services can focus on the whole person.

Services that help persons with a TBI include vocational case management and employment services such as a work trial, situational assessment, employer-based work adjustment or job coaching services.  Return-to-work (RTW) incentive services such as a gradual RTW plan or employer incentives for when a person’s productivity might be limited initially can be helpful. Other employment-based services such as on-the-job training, job modification, ergonomics and tools/equipment may also assist the worker.

In addition, supportive services such as adjustment to disability counseling and living maintenance can make a big difference when a person with a TBI is attempting to RTW in a vocational rehabilitation plan. It’s rewarding when all parties work together for one common goal to return a worker with a TBI back to the job.

Jackie Stanton, Ph.D., CRC, a case manager for Metro Health Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio’s Work Matters Program, facilitated the panel. The audience asked good questions about the information presented, and the current director of the BIAO, Stephanie Ramsey, (former BWC medical services director), commented that the presentation was well received and included needed information.  The attendees were persons with brain injuries, their families and providers – including psychologists, therapists and nurses, as well as case managers.

Focus on survivor’s strengths

Overall, the panel emphasized the importance of everyone working together as a team, including the person with a TBI, their family or support system(s), their employer and coworkers, doctors, psychologists, case managers, vocational providers and therapists.  It’s also important to focus on a patient’s strengths, and what they can do after a TBI, as this keeps the person engaged in the overall medical and vocational recovery process.

The more a person with a TBI learns about their new level of functioning after a brain injury, the more prepared they are to get back to activities of everyday life including employment.

Note: Here is a short video about an injured worker describing his experiences with a TBI who is back to life.

2018 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium third year of success; adds provider staff forum track

We did it again with the help of Ohio’s providers!

Based on accolades from our 2018 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium participants, the symposium’s third year was a smashing success.

Despite dealing with a snow storm, nearly 600 health-care professionals attended this unique, multi-disciplinary event held March 8 – 9 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Thank you!
Together, symposium participants share our joint passion for the comprehensive care of Ohio’s injured workers.

We centered the program around injured workers’ total care.

To assist with this process, we offered up to 12.75 continuing education credits for 10 health-care professions this year.

A special thanks to the symposium’s outstanding presenters, exhibitors and participants as well as our Medical & Health Division for leading this event that we offer participants at no cost. We continue to offer state, national and international experts for our provider clinical education sessions.

The Medical and Health Symposium​ featured two outstanding speakers who shared their inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles and adversity while recovering from injuries. They offered tips for injured workers, providers and family members on how to deal with sudden change following a catastrophic injury. Now they are giving back to others from their life experiences.

Brad Hurtig lost both hands in a workplace accident while in high school, and Dale Hull, M.D. became a tetraplegic following a trampoline accident.

Here is an earlier BWC story about Hurtig’s injury and recovery. He has come full circle in his recovery.

What was new this year?
This year our annual symposium included a full-day provider staff forum track (March 9) designed specifically for office support staff.

BWC and managed care organization experts led lively sessions that included panel discussions and questions and answers.

           

Again, the exhibitor area was a big success with 21 exhibitors who help care for Ohio’s injured workers.

               

Ohio State Chiropractic Association (OSCA): OSCA representatives reach out to symposium participants about the latest trends and advantages in chiropractic care for Ohio’s injured workers to help them get back to work, back to life.

We couldn’t be more pleased with the symposium’s success. Thank you for joining us and for helping us in taking care of Ohio’s workers – at home and at work.

Remember to log in to the Attendee Service Center no later than April 11 to evaluate your sessions and print attendance certificates.

Here’s a look back in photos and tweets!

We’re off and running! Registration was in full swing at our 2018 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

Comprehensive Care: BWC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Terry Welsh kicks off the symposium emphasizing continuing education’s value for providers at all stages of their careers.

When Change Chooses You:  Dr. Dale Hull of Utah shares his story of dealing with tetraplegic paralysis following a spinal cord injury. He reviewed what he learned as a patient that he would have ignored as a physician.

Return to function: Dr. Ranavaya, who is also an attorney, reviewed stay/return to work strategies for injured workers. He also discussed how to help methodically determine disease causation in another session.

Speakers who kicked off the symposium: They are from l. to r. Dr. Hull who had a life-changing accident that lead to paralysis; Dr. Mohammed Ranavaya of Marshall University School of Medicine who reviewed how providers can help injured workers stay/return to their jobs and our Dr. Welsh, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist.

Moving Toward a Targeted Approach to Concussion:  Dr. Alicia Sufrinko of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, discusses the framework for looking at an injury and how assessments lead to certain clinical profiles for concussions.

 

Shoulder Injuries – Treatment, Referral, Surgery and Return to Work: Dr. Matthew Levy, orthopedic surgeon of St. Vincent Charity Hospital, Cleveland, answers questions about different surgical techniques for repairing shoulder injuries.

 

Wellness and Total Worker Health: Dr. Otto Schmidt discusses warning signs or red flags to look for when taking care of an injured worker’s total health with a fellow chiropractor.

 

 

Diversity – Cultural Competencies lead to better Outcomes: Dr. Alejandro Diez, Ohio State University, explains how demographic changes in Ohio’s population form the current diversity of our patient population.

He discussed cultural issues that impact patients’ health and well-being.

 

Pharmacy trends: Dr. Amanda Waltemath, Healthesystems of Florida, discussed current and emerging pharmacy trends and their impact on workers’ compensation.

 

Neurobiology of Addiction – Science Meets Recovery: Dr. Susan Blank, chief medical officer and founder, Atlanta Healing Center, says the American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary chronic disease of the brain. It influences the mind, body and soul.
  
Pharmacy blogger: Mark Pew, senior vice president of PRIUM (right) discusses the genesis and scope of the opioid epidemic with symposium participants and with our Pharmacy Director Nick Trego (left).

 

 

 


Health and Behavioral Intervention:
Dr. Michael Sullivan of McGill University, Canada, reviewed a behavioral/health program to assist injured workers in getting back to work, back to life.

BWC Initiatives and Strategies: From a medical perspective, Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison reviewed BWC’s new initiatives that impact providers and their patients.

Find A Way: BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison stands with motivational speaker and injured worker Brad Hurtig before Hurtig’s presentation that closes out our symposium with a standing ovation. 

Hurtig was tragically injured in high school at a local manufacturer and lost both his hands. But, he turned obstacles into opportunities by continuing to play football and leading his team to victory.

See you in 2019! Thank you for helping injured workers get back to work, back to life.

Finding a way: Injured worker triumphs through tragedy

Brad Hurtig, a double amputee, inspires audience at BWC medical symposium

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer

The workplace accident that took Brad Hurtig’s hands in 2002 could have taken so much more from the high school student-athlete — his place as a star linebacker on the football team, his hopes, dreams and career goals.

But Hurtig, who gave the final lecture Friday at the 2018 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium, wouldn’t let that happen, thanks to a coach who wanted him back on the team and a water bottle on the practice field.

“He invited me to practice when I got out of the hospital,” Hurtig recalled to hundreds of health care providers gathered at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. “It was in late July, super hot and muggy. There was a water bottle on the ground, and I asked my coach for a drink. Well, he paused for a moment, looked at the water bottle, then up at me and said something that would ultimately change my life: ‘If you’re thirsty enough, you’ll find a way.’”

Hurtig found a way, along with a new motto that propels him to this day as a motivational speaker and youth minister.

A three-sport jock, Hurtig had broken a school record for tackles as a middle linebacker his sophomore year. After his accident and a failed stint as a placekicker (“I was terrible”), he returned to his old position his senior year, broke more records (111 tackles) and made all-state honors in his division.

Now 33, the northwest Ohio resident travels the country talking to high schoolers, the media and others about perseverance through adversity. He calls his lecture, Find a Way: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.

BWC Administrator Sarah Morrison stands with motivational speaker Brad Hurtig before Hurtig’s lecture Friday afternoon at the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

Speaking for about an hour to the symposium audience, Hurtig recalled the June day of his accident 16 years ago, shortly after finishing his sophomore year, and the journey that followed.

He was working in a friend’s family business, a metal shop, placing sheet metal in a 500-ton power press that stamped metal into automotive parts. One sheet was misaligned. He attempted to straighten it, but his friend at the control switch didn’t notice. The press came down, severing Hurtig’s right arm below the elbow and crushing his left hand.

“The first thing I remember wasn’t really the pain or even the physical sensation, it was hearing someone scream when they looked at me,” he said.

Hurtig spent 11 days in a Toledo hospital and endured multiple surgeries. In the weeks and months that followed, he worked closely with his medical team and BWC to adapt to his new life and make life adapt to him. BWC provided equipment so he could drive, open doors, turn the shower on and operate a computer. Key to his recovery were myoelectric prosthetic arms.

He removed his prosthetics and explained to the audience how they work. He spoke of the family, friends and health care providers who supported him throughout his ordeal, the empathy of doctors and others who seemed genuinely caring and dedicated to his recovery. “BWC was huge,” he said.

He also shared a couple of workplace safety tips:

  • Stop and think. Impulsive, snap decisions get us into trouble.
  • “If I just communicated with my friend, I would still have my hands.”

“The reality is we all have challenges in life, we all have setbacks, and I can tell you that how we handle those setbacks will in many ways define our lives,” he said. “Excuses will only get you so far. If you’re truly thirsty enough, you will find a way.”

For more on Hurtig, visit bradhurtigsafety.com.