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

Pinnacle Entertainment’s VP of enterprise risk management says he’s inspired by Disney’s approach to risk management.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Bus boy at a fine dining restaurant.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

I sent a résumé to Harrah’s Entertainment on a whim. It took over 30 hours of interviewing to get that job, but it was well worth it.

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


The Chinese citizen (never positively identified) who stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. That kind of courage is undeniable, and that image is unforgettable. I hope we can all be that passionate about something at least once in our lives.

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

Cyber risk, but more narrowly, cyber-extortion. I think state sponsored bad actors are getting more and more sophisticated, and the risk is that they find a way to control entire systems.

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

Training and breaking horses. When I was in high school, I worked on a lot of farms. I did everything from building fences to putting up hay. It was during this time that I found I had a knack for horses. They would tolerate me getting real close, so it was natural I started working more and more with them.

Eventually, I was putting a saddle on a few and before I knew it I was in that saddle riding a horse that had never been ridden before.

I admit I had some nervous moments, but I was never thrown off. It taught me that developing genuine trust early is very important and is needed by all involved. Nothing of any real value happens without it.

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


Setting very aggressive goals and then meeting and exceeding those goals with a team. Sharing team victories is the ultimate reward.

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

Disney World. The sheer size of the place is awe inspiring. And everything works like a finely tuned clock.

There is a reason that hospitality companies send their people there to be trained on guest service. Disney World does it better than anyone else.

As a hospitality executive, I always learn something new whenever I am there.

James Cunningham, vice president, enterprise risk management, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.

The risks that Disney World faces are very similar to mine — on a much larger scale. They are complex and across the board. From liability for the millions of people they host as their guests each year, to the physical location of the park, to their vendor partnerships; their approach to risk management has been and continues to be innovative and a model that I learn from and I think there are lessons there for everybody.

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

We are doing a much better job of getting involved in a meaningful way in our daily operations and demonstrating genuine value to our organizations.

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

Educating and promoting the career with young people.

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

Being able to tell the Pinnacle story. It’s a great one and it wasn’t being told. I believe that the insurance markets now understand who we are and what we stand for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?


John Matthews, who is now retired, formerly with Aon and Caesar’s Palace. John is an exceptional leader who demonstrated the value of putting a top-shelf team together and then letting them do their best work. I model my management style after him.

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

I read mostly biographies and autobiographies. I like to read how successful people became successful by overcoming their own obstacles. Jay Leno, Jack Welch, Bill Harrah, etc. I also enjoyed the book and movie “Money Ball.”

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Ice water when it’s hot, coffee when it’s cold, and an adult beverage when it’s called for.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

In my family, I’m the “Safety Geek.”

R&I:  What’s your favorite restaurant?

Vegas is a world-class restaurant town. No matter what you are hungry for, you can find it here. I have a few favorites that are my “go-to’s,” depending on the mood and who I am with.

If you’re in town, you should try to have at least one meal off the strip. For that, I would suggest you get reservations (you’ll need them) at Herbs and Rye. It’s a great little restaurant that is always lively. The food is tremendous, and the service is always on point. They make hand-crafted cocktails that are amazing.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is Lindo Michoacan. There are three in town, and I prefer the one in Henderson as it has the best view of the valley. For seafood, you can never go wrong with Joe’s in Caesar’s Palace.

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