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. 


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

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!

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!

Partnerships: the key to achieving high quality care in workers’ comp

By Dr. Stephen Woods, BWC Chief Medical Officer

DrStephenWoodsOn arrival at BWC as Chief Medical Officer in 2012, it was like the proverbial “drinking water from a fire hose” with respect to the amount and complexity of information.  Medical school prepares you for that kind of processing, but it was still a challenge. Early on though, opportunities for improvement in health care delivery became apparent.  In working with the medical team, one of the ideas was to create more of a partnership with physicians to reach a common goal of high quality of care.

Different systems approach the challenges of achieving quality of care in different ways.  Lately, some of the more popular methods used by others have been to offer a stick, a carrot, or both.  At BWC, we’ve taken the partnership route. Although we’re raising the bar on expectation of physicians of record, we’re also providing them with the tools to meet those expectations.  For example, CMEs are a necessary requirement for licensure, but the process can be expensive and time consuming.  Our Medical & Health Symposium offered 13.5 CMEs in a cost effective (free) and convenient (central local in home state) venue.

The symposium ran in conjunction with BWC’s annual Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC), which offered an ideal opportunity to collaborate with physicians. Medical education has been provided at OSC in various forms over the years.  We started to enhance offerings three years ago.  Last year, with the help of the OSC planning committee, we put together a full day of medical lectures focused on provider education.  This year, we’ve branded the offerings to begin the first in a series of Annual Medical and Health Symposiums. It turned out to be two-day event focusing on topics that align with BWC’s initiatives. Two tracks were offered to address improving care in the areas of pain management and neuromusculoskeletal management.

symp comboThe Medical & Health Symposium helped drive record breaking attendance at the Ohio Safety Congress and Expo. Although we’re awaiting the formal feedback from participants through electronic surveys, members of the planning committee were approached by participants who were very pleased with their experience as far as the subject matter, the quality of the content and speakers, and the overall organization of the program.

We were pleased to have a diverse group of dynamic speakers from across the state and country who each also happen to specialize in more than one discipline. Comments so far have been that their lectures were very engaging and high quality.

We’re already looking to next year’s symposium and hope to build on the success of this year’s event. Stay tuned for dates.

The balance of providing quality care

By Dr. Stephen Woods, BWC Chief Medical Officer

DrStephenWoodsMany of our medical initiatives at BWC focus on musculoskeletal care. Opioid analgesics tend to be a significant part of musculoskeletal care. In addition to my administrative role as BWC’s CMO, I also practice in a musculoskeletal clinic and see a variety of patients with joint and back conditions.

Opioids are now considered to be more aggressive than conservative care. My approach is to begin with conservative treatment. The key is to balance the risk/benefit ratio for each patient individually. The vast majority of sprains and strains can be managed without opioids. However, customized care is important – if a patient is writhing in pain with a major fracture or spinal disc herniation or other major trauma, most would tend to treat those conditions acutely with opioids, and appropriately so. Later in care, when the patient’s symptoms are better controlled, the risk of opioids goes up as far as duration of prescribing and dosing. Longer duration and higher doses tend to be riskier. Again, the risk/benefit analysis is important to strike the right balance.

I know firsthand how tough that balancing act is with addressing short term pain management and the longer term risk of addiction. That risk is very real. Ohio has been active in establishing guidelines to help providers with their awareness of the latest tools in balancing the risk. This all started in 2011 with Governor Kasich’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team (GCOAT), where John Hanna, BWC’s pharmacy director, and I have held seats over the years. GCOAT first focused on emergency room guidelines, and then released guidelines that addressed chronic pain management and most recently released guidelines for acute prescribing.

I encourage my colleagues to review these guidelines as they work through the challenging balancing act of providing the right care at the right time for the right reason.

I also encourage you to learn more about pain management by attending BWC’s Medical & Health Symposium in March, which will cover clinical care, regulatory issues and ethics, among other areas. The symposium offers free educational opportunities for physicians, nurses and chiropractors, and will feature several leading national and state experts in the area of pain management. Bonnie K. Burman, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging and a leader of the GCOAT, will also speak. After hearing the speakers, we expect providers will find that compliance is easier than they think and that there are many tools that make the balancing act much less difficult.

I encourage my colleagues to join BWC in our pursuit of providing world class care to Ohio’s injured workers.