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Concentra Advances Work-related Health and Safety on a Wide Range of Issues

By Michelle Hopkins | 08/09/2021

Concentra’s leadership in workforce health and safety was manifest in numerous workers’ compensation interviews and venues in the first part of 2021 on topics ranging from occupational asthma, fatigue, and heat stress to telemedicine and COVID-19. Concentra will remain highly visible for the remainder of the year, with presentations at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference, the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s annual event, and many others, as well as ongoing media engagements.

“Our clinical and operational leaders are frequently called upon to speak at educational conferences and industry training workshops. They have been featured in print and online media publications highlighting their subject matter expertise. With a passion for innovation, they share their deep knowledge on a range of health and safety topics which are highly relevant to the challenges being faced by employers, payors, and workforces nationwide. And we’ve seen how their work inspires action. They are ‘thought leaders’ in every best sense of the phrase,” says Concentra SVP and Marketing and Innovation Officer Tom Devasia.

Taking the message to the media

In multiple media outlets, including Risk&Insurance®, mHealthIntelligence, and Construction Executive, Concentra thought leaders have drawn attention to heat-related illness, occupational asthma, fatigue in the transportation industry, and COVID-19 – all issues where greater awareness may help save lives.

An urgent topic now and throughout the summer months is protecting employees from heat illness, which can be severe and even lead to death. Media interest begins in early spring, and so do media interviews with Ronda McCarthy, MD, MPH, FACOEM, Concentra’s national director of medical surveillance services. She is in the vanguard of advocacy for a new national standard for heat illness protection.1 Heat illness is a threat to one third of the world’s population. At high risk are construction and farm employees, respectively 13 times and 35 times more likely to die from heat than others.2

In addition to interviews on heat illness, Dr. McCarthy worked to raise awareness of another employee health threat: occupational asthma. Dr. McCarthy wrote in an article for Construction Executive, “Fortunately, asthma-related deaths are preventable. The solution is to monitor, mitigate, or eliminate exposures at the worksite. If asthma symptoms arise, removing the employee from the exposure can prevent asthma complications or reduce severity.”3 In 2019, more than 3,500 people died from asthma and as many as one-fifth of those deaths were attributed to work-related exposures.

Fatigue is a serious work-related and public health issue. Since 1985, there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of U.S. adults who sleep six hours or less every 24 hours.4 Risk&Insurance interviewed two Concentra sleep and fatigue experts, Anne-Marie Puricelli, MD, JD, national medical director of transportation, and Michael Berneking, MD, FACOEM, FAAFP, medical director, on the threat fatigue poses in the transportation industry.

They discussed how fatigue leads to cognitive impairment, slow reaction times, and more crashes, all of which inevitably increase employee suffering and health care and workers’ compensation costs. They explained testing that occupational health clinicians can initiate to begin treatment for sleep disturbances, such as obstructive sleep apnea.5

Focusing on the facts and realities of COVID-19

Concentra thought leaders continue to address the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19, health effects, vaccination and other preventive measures, and the impact of the pandemic on work safety. Among those who have responded to the need for information and guidance – in media interviews, articles, and webinars – are Chief Medical Officer John Anderson, DO; Giovanni Gallara, MPT, PT, executive vice president and chief clinical officer; Jeffrey Wainstein, MD, vice president of medical operations-onsites; Maja Jurisic, MD, vice president and medical director of strategic accounts; Michael Rhine, DPT, PT, chief operating officer-onsites; Geoff Barnum, DPT, MTC, OCS, PT, director of therapy and specialist operations; Michael Morgan, DPT, PT, OCS, associate director of therapy operations in Arizona; and Cori Repp, MD, MBA, MROCC, director of medical operations in central Florida. Leading Concentra thought leadership on telemedicine are Lisa Figueroa, MD, national medical director-telemedicine, and Ann Schnure, vice president of telemedicine.

In separate Risk&Insurance articles, Dr. Anderson discussed the likely impact of mandating COVID-19 vaccination on workers’ compensation claims and the long-term implications of Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC or long COVID) and what employers and workers’ compensation insurers need to consider in these cases. “As an employer, it’s important to understand that your workers’ compensation payor ultimately determines whether these employees (with PASC) are eligible for ongoing workers’ compensation benefits. Developing a timeline, exploring contact tracing, and considering state-specific workers’ compensation regulations will enable your payor to determine compensability,” he said.

With the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants, some companies have shelved Labor Day reopening plans and are newly mandating COVID-19 vaccination.6 An article Dr. Wainstein authored for Construction Executive, to be published in mid-August, emphasizes the importance of vaccination to reduce virus spread among employees and suppliers on construction sites and to the community. By industry, construction has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates, and Dr. Wainstein explains how larger construction companies can hold on-site vaccination events to tackle this problem.

Pandemic-related impacts on employee mental health and work-from-home musculoskeletal health have been explained by Dr. Maja Jurisic and Therapy Director Geoff Barnum, respectively. In a Risk&Insurance article, Dr. Jurisic discusses how mental health (psychosocial factors) can prolong the duration of a workers’ compensation injury case. Supported by modern brain science, Concentra has developed an approach to identify and address these factors to move cases along, instead of allowing them to languish in the system. With mental health a heightened concern since the pandemic began, cases involving mental health challenges can be expected to increase. Pandemic-related anxiety is a challenge for employees who are not injured, too. Barnum addressed psychosocial stressors of working from home in another Risk&Insurance article.

Telemedicine: Providing quick, efficient care

Nationwide COVID-19 vaccination is a necessary measure to protect employees and the general public from virus spread, but with it comes a risk to health care employees: the likelihood of more accidental needlestick injuries, which occurred at a rate of 600,000 a year before the pandemic. Together, in a Risk&Insurance article, Lisa Figueroa, MD, national medical director for telemedicine, and Ann Schnure, vice president of telemedicine, described how the around-the-clock Concentra Telemed® platform can immediately address the risk of bloodborne pathogen exposure and ease concerns.

Schnure described the many features and benefits of Concentra Telemed – and how ideally suited it is for occupational health – in mHealthIntelligence in February. Telemedicine helps get the injured employee in front of the right care provider as soon as possible and is “a great tool to have,” she said.

Concentra on the workers’ compensation conference stage

The pandemic shut down in-person conferences last year so the 2020 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference became an ongoing digital event. Concentra thought leaders Chris Studebaker, DPT, PT, OCS, national director of onsite therapy and athletic trainers, and Shelby Mendez, DPT, PT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, director of therapy operations in east Florida, were featured on April 7. Their presentation addressed the need for a “mainstream model” of good musculoskeletal health, in light of the growing impact of these injuries on workers’ compensation and health care costs. The presentation (view it online), highlighted employer-based strategies (pre-employment testing, musculoskeletal screening, early reporting, and exercise programs) and onsite athletic trainers as effective in reducing work-related injuries and costs. Jason Gambill of Dominion Energy provided a customer perspective.

Scheduled 2021 Concentra conference presentations

In the second half of 2021, Concentra thought leaders will continue to be prominently featured:

  • The Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Educational Conference, Dec. 12-15 in Orlando, Florida
    • Greg Gilbert, MBA, CPAM, senior vice president, reimbursement and government, “Will the Controversial Become the Norm? (includes telemedicine, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and non-opioid pain management)
    • Dr. Cori Repp, “The COVID-19 Changing Times: Are There Any Changes That Should Be Preserved for the Future?”
    • Michael Holzer, MD, national travel medicine medical director, Dr. Cori Repp, and Dr. Lisa Figueroa, “Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure – Mitigating Your Claims Costs with New Technologies and Medications”
  • 2021 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference, October 20-22 in Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Jeff Kirkpatrick, MD, MBA, clinical director of strategic accounts-onsites, “What the Pandemic Revealed about the Value of Investing in Onsite Care” (with Vince Daniels, chief human resources officer, Shamrock Foods, providing a customer perspective)
  • Riskonnect Hybrid Conference for leaders in risk management and innovation, September 20-22 in Braselton, Georgia
    • Stefanie Dean, vice president and senior counsel
  • Western Occupational Health Conference sponsored by the Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association, September 29-October 2 in Phoenix, Arizona
    • Dr. Anne-Marie Puricelli
    • Dr. Michael Berneking
  • The American Case Management Association 2021 Florida Chapter Conference
    • Dr. Cori Repp, “Early Intervention Model: An Approach That Gets Results”

Thought leadership each month: Concentra webinars

Concentra thought leaders have presented three COVID-19-related webinars so far this year – with a fourth scheduled on August 27. These webinars are available on demand by clicking the links below.

What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Administration
Dr. Jeffrey Wainstein
Watch

Actionable Post-pandemic Strategies in Human Resources and Safety Management
Dr. Cori Repp
Watch

Bring Employees Back to Work, Health, and Safety
Shelby Mendez and Michael Morgan, DPT, PT, OCS, associate director of therapy operations, Arizona
Watch

Using Onsite Medical Expertise to Recruit Skilled Employees (relates to virus fear)
Giovanni Gallara and Michael Rhine
August 27. Register Now.

A collection of webinars covering a wide range of topics in the last 12 months can be found here.

NOTES

  1. Occupational Heat Stress Gets Hearing on Capitol Hill,” Concentra.com. August 16, 2019.
  2. Heat is killing more people than ever. Scientists are looking for ways to lower the risk,” American Association for the Advancement of Science. November 12, 2020.
  3. Prevent Occupational Asthma With Awareness,” Construction Executive. April 14, 2021.
  4. "The Serious Threat Fatigue Poses for the Transportation Industry – and How Working with the Right Team Can Curb the Danger,” Risk&Insurance. June 17, 2021.
  5. The Serious Threat Fatigue Poses for the Transportation Industry – and How Working with the Right Team Can Curb the Danger,” Risk&Insurance. June 17, 2021.
  6. Google mandates vaccines for employees and delays its return to the office to October 1,” The New York Times. July 28, 2021.