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]

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]