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2016 Teddy Awards: Honorable Mention

Advocating for Injured Workers

By helping employees navigate through the workers' comp system, Cottage Health decreased lost work days by 80 percent.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 3 min read

Cottage Health was having trouble returning injured workers to the job. In 2014, the nonprofit hospital system recorded an all-time high of 1,953 recordable lost days.

In 2016, the three-hospital system in the Central Coast Region in California is on track to reduce that number to 400 – an 80 percent decrease in lost work days.

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The health system managed the impressive turnaround by modifying its transitional return to work program, hiring a workers’ compensation case manager and working to educate both managers, employees and medical providers about the opportunities and benefits of returning workers to the job as quickly as possible.

“Keeping somebody engaged at work returns them to their full capacity sooner,” said Angeli Mancuso, manager, employee health and safety at Cottage Health. “There’s a psychological component. When you get used to not working, even two weeks off, sometimes it makes it very difficult to come back.”

Rose Hatmaker, workers’ compensation case manager at Cottage Health, says the health care organization “works as an advocate for the injured workers.”

“It’s a team effort to return injured workers to a productive lifestyle in their position,” she said.

Angeli Mancuso, manager, employee health and safety, Cottage Health

Angeli Mancuso, manager, employee health and safety, Cottage Health

Hatmaker helps employees navigate the workers’ compensation system by directly communicating with occupational health physician partners, expediting physical therapy appointments, discussing treatment plans with physicians and assisting employees with any questions they have related to claims process, handled by third-party administrator Sedgwick.

Hatmaker also put together a job bank that helps her match jobs and abilities within the health system with injured employees.

But the worker advocacy program required pushing our culture forward, said Mancuso.

While she worked with the management team to educate them on the benefits of bringing injured employees back on modified duty, Hatmaker was brought on board in 2015 to work with the employees, physicians and service providers.

Cottage Health uses a tiered return-to-work program that first tries to place injured employees in their home department. If physical limitations make that impossible, employees are assigned to a different department in their own hospital or another in the system. As a last resort, employees are assigned to a nonprofit organization as a volunteer. The last option was added to the program as part of the goal to reduce lost days.

“You can utilize their brain if they are physically unable to do the job.” Angeli Mancuso, manager, employee health and safety, Cottage Health

Use of the modified duty options have had peaks and valleys over the years, said Molly Kellogg, employee health and safety consultant, “but we’ve never had as much buy-in or variety as we do now.”

Mancuso remembered one manager who declined to bring back an injured physical therapist because of limitations. After another therapy department in the hospital agreed to bring the therapist on to speak to patients on the phone, the first manager changed his mind. They ended up sharing the employee’s time, she said.

“You can utilize their brain if they are physically unable to do the job,” Mancuso said.

Cottage Health also, of course, strives to prevent injuries from occurring, and has a robust training program and safety tools to maintain employee health.

A safe-patient handling system is a key part of that, and any new construction or remodeling almost always includes ceiling lifts in all rooms as well as mobile equipment at existing facilities. When the program began in 2009 at a cost of $6 million, there were 41 preventable patient handling injuries. In 2015, there was one.

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The health care system also concentrated on its sharp safety program to prevent blood exposure among health care workers. Research at the hospitals revealed that surgical technicians had the highest incidence of needle sticks and other sharps injuries. It had been presumed that resident physicians had the highest rate.

By increasing education, the needle stick rate for surgical technicians decreased from 25 percent in 2014 to 14 percent in 2015.

Cottage Health begins its safety training at new employee initiation sessions and pursues safety awareness at departmental staff meetings. In addition it has a multi-disciplinary committee that includes representatives from many areas throughout the system to focus on “environments of care.” &

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Read more about the 2016 Teddy Award winners:

target-150x150Bringing Focus to Broad Challenges: Target brings home a 2016 Teddy Award for serving as an advocate for its workers, pre- and post-injury, across each of its many operations.

 

hrt-150x150The Road to Success: Accountability and collaboration turned Hampton Roads Transit’s legacy workers’ compensation program into a triumph.

 

excela-150x150Improve the Well-Being of Every Life: Excela Health changed the way it treated injuries and took a proactive approach to safety, drastically reducing workers’ comp claims and costs.

 

harder-150x150The Family That’s Safe Together: An unwavering commitment to zero lost time is just one way that Harder Mechanical Contractors protects the lives and livelihoods of its workers.

 

More coverage of the 2016 Teddy Awards:

Recognizing Excellence: The judges of the 2016 Teddy Awards reflect on what they learned, and on the value of awards programs in the workers’ comp space.

Fit for Duty: 2013 Teddy Winner Miami-Dade County Public Schools is managing comorbid risk factors by getting employees excited about healthy living.

Saving Time and Money: Applying Lean Six Sigma to its workers’ comp processes earned Atlantic Health a Teddy Award Honorable Mention.

Caring for the Caregivers: Adventist Health Central Valley Network is achieving stellar results by targeting its toughest challenges.

Advocating for Injured Workers: By helping employees navigate through the workers’ comp system, Cottage Health decreased lost work days by 80 percent.

A Matter of Trust: St. Luke’s workers’ comp program is built upon relationships and a commitment to care for those who care for patients.

Keeping the Results Flowing: R&I recognizes the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for a commonsense approach that’s netting continuous improvement.

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

The Profession

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]