2014 Risk All Star: Patty Hostine

Vocal Rehabilitation Success

Growing a business, of course, is a good thing. But as Patricia Hostine, workers’ compensation manager at Cooper Standard Automotive, learned the hard way, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing — at least when it happens fast.

Patty Hostine, manager, workers’ compensation, Cooper Standard Automotive

Patty Hostine, manager, workers’ compensation, Cooper Standard Automotive

When one factory’s operations were relocated and absorbed into a Kentucky facility, that location’s staffing level tripled practically overnight, with many new employees lacking experience.

“If you’re launching a big program, it comes with a lot of confusion, a lot of overtime, a lot of new people coming in doing jobs they’ve never done before,” said Gerry King, former global vice president of health, safety and environment for the company.

“It’s a great recipe for workers’ comp issues.”

Claims costs skyrocketed. Within three years, that facility — one of the company’s 16 — was responsible for 50 percent of the company’s claims costs. Lost-time days there shot up by 46 percent.

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Hostine said her company’s plight was keeping her awake at night … quite literally. During one of many sleepless nights, Hostine finally had a 4 a.m. epiphany: What are we waiting for? Why can’t we start vocational rehab on the front end?

“I’m a firm believer that if you have 12 weeks of lost time, you’ve already closed the window for vocational rehab,” said Hostine, who spent more than a decade as a vocational case manager before joining Cooper Standard.

“I think a lot of professionals miss that window and then don’t understand why vocational rehab doesn’t work.”

Hostine contracted with a part-time in-house case manager to work with injured employees and place them in appropriate positions. Job evaluations were conducted for every key position in the plant to ensure proper placement of recovering workers.

The company’s other key cost driver was that supervisors were being put in the position of making medical decisions. More often than not, nearly every minor injury wound up in the ER.

Hostine implemented a 24/7 telephonic nurse triage program. Nurses evaluated every injured worker and determined which issues could be handled in-house with first aid, and which required immediate attention or follow-up care.

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Together, these programs have made a world of difference for Cooper Standard.

The company has seen a 50 percent decrease in the number of incidents that become claims. And lost time didn’t simply drop — it is now a mere 6 percent of the pre-expansion baseline for that facility. Workers’ comp wage loss payments have decreased 63 percent from 2010 to 2012. The 24/7 nurse triage program has now been implemented companywide.

Colleagues say that Hostine was unquestionably the right person to drive this level of change at Cooper Standard.

“[Patty] has an MBA. …. She is able to put workers’ comp in the context of the business and make people understand that you have to look at these as business decisions,” said King.

Responsibility Leader

Patty is also being recognized as a 2014 Responsibility Leader.

Champion for Change

Workers’ Compensation Manager Patty Hostine created dramatic gains for Cooper Standard Automotive by championing a fundamental change in the way both management and employees perceived the company’s approach to injury treatment and recovery.

“When she came on board we had all kinds of new management — nobody was on board with our thought process,” said Gerry King, who hired Hostine to manage workers’ compensation at Cooper Standard.That kind of transformation is never an easy sell. But Hostine’s ability to clearly communicate the benefits of the change to people at every level of the organization is the hallmark of a Responsibility Leader®.

“So it was taking them and making them see the business side of workers’ compensation that a lot of people don’t look at,” King said.

Hostine is also committed the members of her team, and to making sure that everyone involved has the tools and knowledge they need to excel.

“Her ethics are above reproach,” said Mick Altherr, coordinator of health, safety and environment, and workers’ compensation at Cooper Standard Automotive, “and that drives her theme of being fair, firm and friendly. … She’s an amazing talent with her drive for knowledge. She shares her thought process to educate the people who work with her.”

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350px_allstarRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and/or passion.

See the complete list of 2014 Risk All Stars.

Responsibility Leaders overcome obstacles by doing the right thing over the easy thing to find  practical solutions that benefit their co-workers and community.

Read more about the 2014 Responsibility Leaders.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]