2016 Teddy Awards: Honorable Mention

Caring for the Caregivers

Adventist Health Central Valley Network is achieving stellar results by targeting its toughest challenges.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 3 min read

Hospital workers face a dizzying array of health and safety risks for workers, but Sonni Burrell and her team at Adventist Health Central Valley Network in Hanford, Calif., are committed to protecting every employee who cares for their patients and keeps operations running smoothly.


The organization realized a 23 percent drop in injury frequency since 2012, despite a steadily growing employee population. And since 2011, the organization achieved a nearly 79 percent drop in its average total incurred cost per claim, along with a 74 percent drop in its average medical cost per indemnity claim.

Risk & Insurance® recognizes these results with a 2016 Teddy Award Honorable Mention.

One major challenge had been exposures to blood-borne pathogens from accidental butterfly needle sticks during venipunctures, said Burrell, the network’s human resources and workers’ compensation manager.

These occurred when clinical staff removed the needle from use and began to activate the safety mechanism.

They had been using a safety-lever butterfly needle, requiring them to slide forward the safety device over the needle. The safety device was located on the back housing of the needle, causing the employee’s finger to often slip when activating the device, up to the point of the needle and causing a blood-borne pathogen exposure.

L to R: Ashley Clabeaux, Caroline Raygoza, Sonni Burrell, Amber Antiporda

L to R: Ashley Clabeaux, Caroline Raygoza, Sonni Burrell, Amber Antiporda

“When I was hired, I went to our employee health department to get a pre-employment physical, and the nurse working with me mentioned that she was having such trouble with the butterfly blood draw needles,” Burrell said.

Burrell researched network records, validated the nurse’s concerns and collaborated with materials management, infection prevention, and finance to make a change.

The network switched to a retractable butterfly needle, which retracts into the housing unit by depressing a button after use, while the needle is still engaged in the vein, never exposing the dirty needle.

Since the switch in the fourth quarter of 2013, there have been no new butterfly needle sticks.

“We are focused on keeping our employees engaged in order to fulfill our vision to be the best place to receive care, the best place to practice medicine and the best place to work.” — Sonni Burrell, human resources and workers’ compensation manager, Adventist Health Central Valley Network

After a significant investment in patient-lift equipment across all facilities, Burrell’s team wasn’t satisfied with the reduction of injuries related to patient handling. The team investigated the problem, and uncovered a training disconnect.

They implemented additional mandatory training sessions to stress the importance of the proper use of the lift equipment and to give employees a better understanding of when to use the equipment.

Patient handling-related injuries have been trending steadily downward since the additional training was implemented.

In 2015, the organization applied for a grant to create an ergonomics program. They were able to train two employees as Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialists (CEES), who are now conducting ergonomic assessments in all office, lab, industrial and health care environments.

They also purchased web-based software, currently being used by 1,300 employees, that guides employees through the process of setting up ergonomically sounds workstations.

In an industry with the most non-fatal injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s important for hospital staff to be safe, Burrell said.


“If they are injured and are unable to work, or cannot work at full capacity, they may not be able to deliver the best patient care — which is our goal as an organization,” she said.

“It’s also important to employee engagement. We are focused on keeping our employees engaged in order to fulfill our vision to be the best place to receive care, the best place to practice medicine and the best place to work.” &


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.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in California. She has more than two decades of journalism experience and expertise in financial writing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Risk Management

The Profession

Mohegan Gaming’s director of risk management recognizes the value of the people around her in creating success.  
By: | February 20, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was a margin clerk in financial futures at Kidder Peabody & Company.

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

While I was at General Dynamics working in HR, the opportunity to transition to risk management was afforded to me. I was very fortunate that the risk manager at the time took a chance on me and taught me so very much. Coming from a manufacturing facility with multiple unions helped prepare me for any situation.

R&I: How has your experience in human resources helped your career in risk management? What do the positions have in common?


I believe my HR background has helped my risk management career immensely. Both areas are interrelated. People are fundamental to accomplishing goals and people can help or hinder those results. Human resources is tasked with bringing in and nurturing the right people, and risk management is tasked with keeping them safe.

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

Education, keeping up with industry trends and having resources available to better prepare organizations. There is always something new or a new way to view a situation.

Mary Lou Morrissette, corporate director of risk management, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

R&I: What kind of resources can risk managers bring to the table?

Data and analytics have come so far, and the systems out there are able to drill down into good quality information that can be used more effectively.

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

Within the community, we all understand the role of risk management, but getting organizations to understand the importance of considering risk during the strategic decision-making process as opposed to treating it like an after-thought can be a challenge. Risk should be involved in day-to-day operations — not just when a problem arises.

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

San Diego. The proximity to the city, community and culture was great.

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

The emergence of cyber security.

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


Catastrophic events, both natural and manmade, are becoming more of a norm of late. We need to look at analytics and the role they play in understanding these disasters and subsequent losses to help organizations prepare, manage and recover from these types of events.

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

We have always valued relationships. We have a few long-standing partners that immediately come to mind. FM Global, Great American and Safety National have all been immensely important to our company and our growth.

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

All through a broker.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

If you have trust and faith in your broker and they have full disclosure, then yes, it is overblown. But I have seen the cost of hidden commissions and the effect on the bottom line.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I had a mentor early on in my career in HR, Marie Haggerty. She instilled in me the mindset to speak up and be heard and not to shy away from an adverse opinion but to be strong in my convictions.

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

Being awarded FM Global’s Highly Protected Risk award in 2011. The award is granted when a location has no human element recommendations, no uncontrolled high-risk exposures and no other major loss exposures. Mohegan Sun has worked hand-in-hand with FM since 2000 on loss prevention recommendations and improvements. Our engineering team as well as our fire department have been instrumental in our ability to achieve this award. We have always tried to meet or exceed the advice we receive from FM’s engineers. This has made our property better protected as well as helped to keep our premium in line.

R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?


Too many!

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

I only read nonfiction and personal development books. Katie Couric’s “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives” is one of my favorites.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Coffee and water.

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

The Pearl Harbor memorial. I love history and to stand over the Arizona was humbling.

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


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

That I can make a difference in either a safer workplace or on the bottom line, and that every day is different. I love the diversity of what I do and the constant change and ability to continue to grow and learn.

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

I definitely get the deer in the headlights look when I tell people what I do — I don’t think any of my family or friends truly understand it.

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