Paralyzed doctor inspires at BWC health symposium

Dr. Dale Hull, the walking definition of irony

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer

Assisted by a cane, Dr. Dale Hull walked slowly to the podium and pronounced, “I am a quadriplegic” to an audience Thursday morning at the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

“You might be asking, ‘Are you sure about that? I just saw you walk to the podium and you’re moving your arms,’” Hull told a hushed audience at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. “I assure you, I am partially paralyzed from the mid-trunk down.”

Hull then shared the story of how a tragedy — a trampoline accident in 1999 damaged his spinal cord and upended his life as a successful obstetrician-gynecologist and married father of four sons in South Jordan, Utah — became a transformation.

“As we go through life, we make plans, we make choices, we feel like we’re in control and we choose to change at times,” he said before revealing the theme of his lecture. “But what happens when change chooses you?”

Hull, who was 44 at the time of his accident, explained that he struggled mightily in the early months of his recovery. The loss of independence was almost too much to bear. His prospects and outlook were dim, and seeing even the most mundane of activities — a neighbor mowing his lawn — would reduce him to tears.

“I felt like a modern-day leper, at times like I wasn’t even a worthwhile human being,” he said. “I thought it was so unfair for God to give me something I wasn’t prepared for.”

He said he had hoped he would just regain enough movement in one hand so he could maneuver a powered wheelchair. But in the months that followed, through faith, family and dedicated health care providers, he regained much more.

It started with a big toe, followed by slight movement in his legs, and then an index finger. He endured intensive physical and occupational therapy, and in two years he could walk again with the aid of arm crutches.

Not satisfied, Hull set his sights even higher. The Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were coming up, and Hull wanted to carry the Olympic torch. In February 2002, he did just that, topping off the experience when he passed the flame to basketball superstar Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz.

“This was my George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life moment,” he said, referring to the Jimmy Stewart holiday classic.

Grateful for the strides he had made, Hull and physical therapist Jan Black started wondering how they could help others recovering from spinal injuries. Then he read a Mahatma Gandhi quote he hadn’t seen before: You must be the change you want to see in the world.

“When I read this quote, I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Because I knew what it meant.”

In 2004, Hull and Black founded a nonprofit, outpatient neuro-rehabilitation facility in a 1,000 square-foot store front and called it Neuroworx. In the years since, thanks to its success and generous benefactors, Neuroworx has grown into a modern, leading rehab facility with state-of-the-art equipment and a mission to serve adult and child patients alike, regardless of their ability to pay.

“This adventure has been so rich in its experiences and so amazing in terms of what I’ve learned,” Hull said. “If God or Buddha or even (Ohio State University head football coach) Urban Meyer told me I could have a fully functioning body again, but I’d have to forget everything I’ve learned over the last 18 years, I would say no thanks, don’t touch me.”

“I have no idea why I’m so blessed and so fortunate,” he said. “I just know that I am.”

You can watch Dr. Hull give a TEDx-talk about his journey here.

The health symposium continues through Friday.

Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium begins today – why you should not miss it!

We are excited that our Medical & Health Symposium kicked off today and runs through Friday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center for all providers. Don’t miss hearing international, national and state experts in their fields discuss Comprehensive Care for an Injured Worker in the provider clinical education track.

This year, for the first time, the symposium features a provider staff forum track on Friday for provider support staff.

See through their eyes
In addition, you may also listen to TED-type talks from patients’ perspectives about overcoming obstacles following a catastrophic injury as a physician and as an injured worker. Their presentations (Dale Hull, M.D., and Brad Hurtig) allow you to “walk in their shoes.”

Here is an earlier BWC story about Brad’s catastrophic injury that happened when he was in high school while working on a summer job. He has come full circle from being an injured worker to telling his story as a safety/injury prevention public speaker for students to professionals.

You may also learn about BWC’s new medical initiatives from our Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. If you have time in your schedule to attend one or more sessions, here is the symposium brochure and link to register.

Free continuing education is available for many professions, including attorneys, chiropractors, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, physicians, podiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation counselors and case managers.

Why participate?
The BWC Chief Medical Officer Terry Welsh kicked off the symposium with a story about the importance of continuing education in health care delivery, not only for providers, but also for health care insurers and managed care organizations.

Dr. Welsh drew on personal experience, eighteenth century history, and the recent evolution of health care delivery payment methodologies to make an argument that the principles of integrity, beneficence, and continuing education are still alive and well in Ohio today.

We look forward to seeing you Thursday and/or Friday at the Medical & Health Symposium!

Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium March 8 – 9, 2018

Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio

Seats are still available for our symposium’s provider clinical education sessions. We remind medical practitioners to register online today for our free symposium that focuses on Comprehensive Care for an Injured Worker. Based on your schedule, you may register for one or more sessions on either or both days. If you haven’t registered, take time to view the brochure here.

Added benefits: free continuing education, leading experts
Free continuing education credits are approved for select provider clinical education sessions for licensed health-care professionals. You will hear from leading state, national and international experts in their fields. An overwhelming percentage (94 percent) of last year’s attendees rated the presentation quality as excellent to very good. You don’t want to miss it!

The symposium kicks off with Dale Hull, M.D., who was paralyzed from a catastrophic injury explaining what happens “When Change Chooses You.” Here are the sessions that follow. It ends with Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison reviewing “BWC Initiatives and Strategies – A Medical Focus” and Brad Hurtig, who lost both hands from a workplace injury, presenting “Find a Way: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.”

Website, information
Our website outlines the details for session topics and speakers. If you have questions, call BWC’s provider contact center at 1-800-644-6292, options 0-3-0, or email

The Medical & Health Symposium runs in conjunction with BWC’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo. Together, we can make a difference in the care of Ohio’s injured workers – at home and at work.

On behalf of everyone at BWC, we look forward to seeing you March 8 – 9.

Making a better Ohio with health and wellness

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Improved health and wellness leads to a better quality of life in all aspects of our lives, including the workplace.

Living a healthy, balanced life can help prevent injury or help workers recover more quickly if they are hurt on the job. That’s why we’re launching Better You, Better Ohio!™ – a program designed to provide health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small Ohio employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries*.

Better You, Better Ohio! takes the stress out of implementing or joining a workplace wellness program thanks to a simple, paperless sign-up process for workers and no costs for the employee or employer. The program offers:

  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training;
  • Health assessments and biometric screenings for better understanding of their health and well-being;
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their goals;
  • A state-of-the art mobile app for creating weekly action plans and getting health tips;
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Why we’re offering Better You, Better Ohio!

Ohio, like much of the nation, is facing major health challenges driven primarily by obesity, aging and the rise in chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes and cardiovascular diseases). As of 2017, Ohio’s health ranking stood at 39th among the 50 states. These health challenges and outcomes are mostly associated with lifestyle behaviors. Individuals can improve these behaviors by using the resources and support services health and wellness programs like Better You, Better Ohio! offer.

Want to know more?

Visit our Better You, Better Ohio! webpage for additional details.

*Agriculture; automotive repair and service; construction; firefighters; health care; manufacturing; police and public safety; public employers; restaurant and food service; transportation and trucking; trash collection; wholesale and retail

Free CEUs! Register for the Medical & Health Symposium, March 8 – 9

Online registration is open for this year’s annual Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. It runs in conjunction with BWC’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo. View brochure.

Two education opportunities available

The Provider Clinical Education track is an opportunity for health-care professionals to learn about the latest trends and evidence-based medicine. This track features leading state, national and international experts in addiction, behavioral health, chiropractic medicine, cultural diversity, orthopedic surgery, pharmacology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychology and total worker health.

BWC is requesting contact hours for select provider clinical educations sessions for the following licensed health care professionals:

  • Nurses;
  • Occupational and physical therapists;
  • Pharmacists;
  • Physicians (DC, DO, DPM and M.D.);
  • Physician assistants;
  • Psychologists;
  • Vocational rehabilitation (CCM, CDMS and CRC).

The Provider Staff Forum is new this year. It offers a full day (Friday, March 9 only) of education designed specifically for provider office staff related to key workers’ compensation policies and procedures. BWC recommends this portion of the symposium for office staff/administrators who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of workers’ compensation processes and workflow within a health-care system.

Register today!

  • Registration is free.
  • You need a unique email address to register.
  • Physicians and physician assistants must provide their National Provider Identifier and specialty.
  • Pharmacists must provide their Ohio license number and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy number.
  • Be prepared to select your educational track and each session.
    • Provider clinical education (13 sessions: March 8 – 9)
    • Provider staff forum (Five sessions: March 9)
  • Visit for more information and to register.
  • Registration is limited.
    • 700 attendees for the Provider Clinical Education track.
    • 125 attendees for the Provider Staff Forum track.

If you have questions, call BWC’s provider contact center at 1-800-644-6292, option 0-3-0, or email For more information, go to

Striving for world class

By Bill Teets, BWC Communications Director

It is no secret that successful organizations have a strong sense of direction and purpose. At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, we want to be a world class insurer.

We have a clear mission to “protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates.” Keep people safe. Make them better when they’re hurt. Do it effectively to not over-burden business. We also have a core set of values—service, simplicity and savings—that guide us.

While these are essential to being world class, they’re not enough. As communications director for BWC, I spend much of my time discovering all the great things happening here and sharing them with the outside world. There are so many stories to tell. Great investing has helped us return $3 billion in rebates over the last several years. Ohio’s injury rates are below the national average and our claims are at record lows. We’re finding ways to speed care to the injured and our nationally recognized pharmacy management program has drastically reduced opioid usage among injured workers.

What I’ve learned from telling these stories is that world class organizations have world class people. Our mission and values may guide us, but ultimately, it is the people that deliver on those promises. Several recent accolades prove my point.

Recently, our Chief of Enterprise Services, Shadya Yazback was named a C-Suite Award Winner by Columbus Business First. In their own words, “the C-Suite Awards recognizes Central Ohio’s top executives for their contribution and commitment to the community and their outstanding professional performance.”

This year’s 19 winners were selected by a panel of business school professors in Ohio. Among her achievements at BWC is the implementation of a multi-year, multi-million dollar replacement of our core claims and policy management systems—systems used by more than half our 1,800 employees to serve Ohio’s injured workers and employers. It was not always a smooth transition, but as the driver of the process she proved world-class people are able to adapt and keep an organization driving toward a common goal.

Kendra DePaul is another example of our world-class staff. Kendra has been named as one of 11 NexGen award winners by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). She achieved this accolade for leading Ohio’s effort to build our Other States Coverage and managing the program. Because of this program, Ohio employers who do business in other states have options that make life easier when it comes to covering their employees.

That same organization awarded our pharmacy department the second annual IAIABC Innovation Award. That entry, “Saving Lives — Building a Model Pharmacy Program Amid a Deadly Epidemic” reflects Ohio’s efforts to reduce opioid abuse and excessive prescribing of the painkillers while building a pharmacy program that’s recognized as a leader in the industry today. Because of the pharmacy department efforts, led by John Hanna, who just retired, we have reduced the number of injured workers dependent on opioids from 8,000 in 2011 to 4,100 today. You can point to policies, but it was John and his people who took the initiative to make this reality.

Three world-class accomplishments. Three world-class people. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At BWC, we have 1,800 other dedicated individuals who work every day to help keep workplaces safe, get the injured back to their lives, and help reduce bureaucratic obstacles to their success. Not a bad place to work.

Opioid infographic illustrates BWC’s success, pharmacy leadership

Document’s release coincides with director’s retirement

By Nick Trego, Clinical Operations Manager, Pharmacy Department

Click on infographic  for larger image.

BWC’s communications department recently completed an infographic summarizing our work over the last six years to rein in excessive opioid prescriptions and the dangers they pose to injured workers, namely abuse, addiction and death.

Using a mix of colors, illustrations and statistics, the infographic is a roadmap of the steps we’ve taken to reduce the number of injured workers dependent on opioids from 8,029 in 2011 to 4,101 in 2016, a near 50 percent drop.

It’s called “Saving Lives — BWC battles the opioid crisis.” A better title might be, “Saving Lives — a tribute to John Hanna.”

Hanna, our pharmacy director, retires Sept. 29 after eight years in the job. More than anyone, it is John who is responsible for the achievements highlighted in the infographic, as well as for other pharmacy program reforms we’ve implemented to protect injured workers.  Along the way, with the backing of BWC leadership, he also built a pharmacy department that is a model in the work comp industry today.

When John arrived at BWC in 2009, we had no real pharmacy department to speak of. It was essentially a mix of disparate services shared by various personnel in service offices throughout the state. We had no formulary, no clinical review committees. Controls and best practices were low. Costs and drug utilization were high. For a system that experienced more than 100,000 new injured workers a year, we had to do better.

What followed over the next several years were a series of improvements to reduce inappropriate prescribing of opioids and other dangerous drugs. We created a Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee of six physicians and six pharmacists to provide recommendations on all medication-related policy. We created the first work-comp-specific closed formulary in the nation. We stopped coverage of any new opioid formulation until it was reviewed by our P&T Committee. And in 2016, we implemented a rule that requires providers to use a set of best practice guidelines when prescribing opioids. If they don’t follow those guidelines, they risk losing their BWC certification.

To further demonstrate our commitment, we offer injured workers who meet specific criteria up to 18 months of paid recovery services if the treatment for their workplace injury leads to an opioid addiction.

In other enhancements, we developed an automated program that flags claimants with high-risk medication regimens. We implemented “electronic edits” that require all drugs in medical-only claims to have a prior authorization to continue to be covered past 60 days. The same goes for workers who’ve had no claim activity for 270 days. We became the first state agency to cover naloxone products, as well as the first state agency to add Abuse Deterrent Formulations of opioids as a choice for prescribers. And earlier this year, our board of directors approved a rule restricting first prescriptions for opioids to seven days or 30 doses.

Our work has garnered local and national media attention, and work comp programs across the country are calling us, wanting to mirror our success. Topping it off, we wound up saving our agency money. That’s right, I said “saving.” For every dollar we spent on reforms, 50 came back to us in savings. All told, our department spends nearly $49.6 million less on medications today than we did in 2011.

Not that any of this was cost-driven. John always told us, “If we implement best clinical practices, the savings will follow.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Kasich recognized John for his efforts, awarding him the Governor’s Award for Employee Excellence. The industry has recognized his efforts, too. Just last month, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions named John and our team winners of its 2017 Innovation Award.

None of this was easy, but John kept us focused on one guiding principal: “Do what’s best for the injured worker. That’s why we’re here.”

Thanks, John.

Click here for more on BWC’s efforts on the opioid front.