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]

Risk Management

The Profession

This senior risk manager values his role in helping Varian Medical Systems support research and technologies in the fight against cancer.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

When I was 15 years old I had a summer job working for the city of Plentywood, mowing grass in the parks and ballfields, emptying garbage cans, hauling waste to the dump, painting crosswalk lines.  A great job for a teenager but I thought getting a college degree and working in an air-conditioned office would be a good plan long term.

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

I was enrolled in the University of Montana as a general business student, and I wanted to declare a more specialized major during my sophomore year. I was working for my dad at his insurance agency over the summer, and taking new agent training coursework on property/casualty risks in my spare time, so I had an appreciation for insurance. My dad suggested I research risk management for a career, and I transferred sight unseen to the University of Georgia to enroll in their risk management program. I did an internship as a senior with the risk management department at Sulzer Medica, and they offered me a full time job.

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

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We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks. If we initiate a collaborative exercise with the risk owners — people who may have unique knowledge about that particular risk — and include a cross section of people from other corporate functions, you can do an effective job of taking the risk apart to analyze it, figure out a way to manage that exposure, and then reap the upside benefits while reducing the downside exposure. That can be done with new products and new service offerings, when there isn’t coverage available for a risk. It’s asking, is there anything we can do to reduce the risk without transferring it?

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

Cyber liability. There’s so much at stake and the bad guys are getting more resourceful every day. At Varian, our first approach is to try to make our systems and products more resilient, so we’re trying to direct resources to preventing it from happening in the first place. It’s a huge reputation risk if one of our products or systems were compromised, so we want to avoid that at all costs.

We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks.

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

I’ve worked with a number of great ones over the years. We’ve enjoyed a great property insurance relationship with Zurich. Their loss control services are very valuable to us. On the umbrella liability side, it’s been great partnering with companies like Swiss Re and Berkley Life Sciences because they’ve put in the time and effort to understand our unique risk exposures.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

One hundred percent through a broker. I view our broker as an extension of our risk management team. We benefit from each team member’s respective area of expertise and experience.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

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I think so. The brokers were kind of villainized by Spitzer. I think it’s fair for brokers and insurers to make a reasonable profit, and if a portion of their profit came from contingent commissions, I’m fine with that. But I do appreciate the transparency and disclosure that came out as a result of the fiasco.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

David Collins, Senior Manager, Risk Management, Varian Medical Systems Inc.

While we might be doing fine here in the U.S. from an economic perspective, the Middle East is a mess, and we’re living with nuclear threat from North Korea. But hope springs eternal, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping saner minds prevail and our leaders throughout the world work together to make things better.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My Dad got me started down the insurance and risk path. I’ve also been fortunate to work for or with a number of University of Georgia alumni who’ve been mentors for me. I’ve worked side by side with Karen Epermanis, Michael Rousseau, and Elisha Finney. And I’ve worked with Daniel Dean in his capacity as a broker.

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

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Raising my kids. I have a 15-year-old and 12-year-old, and they’re making mom and dad proud of the people they’re turning into.

On a professional level, a recent one would be the creation and implementation of our global travel risk program, which was a combined effort between security, travel and risk functions.

We have a huge team of service personnel around the world, traveling to customer sites to do maintenance and repair. We needed a way to track, monitor and communicate with them. We may need to make security arrangements or vet their lodging in some circumstances.

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

My 12-year-old son thought my job responsibilities could be summed up as a “professional worrier.” And that’s not too far off.

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

Varian’s mission is to focus energy on saving lives. Proper administration of the risk function puts the company in a better position to financially support research that improves products and capabilities, helps to educate health care providers and support cancer care in general. It means more lives saved from a terrible disease. I’m proud to contribute toward that.

When you meet someone whose cancer has been successfully treated with one of our products, it’s a powerful reward.




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