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

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

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

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

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


The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

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

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

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

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

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

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

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

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

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


The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

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

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

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

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

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


A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

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

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

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

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

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

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

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

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.

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