MORRISTOWN, NJ – A project to enhance workplace safety at Atlantic Health System earned double recognition for the organization – first from one of the most coveted award programs in workers' compensation, and then by an official resolution from the New Jersey Legislature.
On Monday, March 13, the Legislature approved the resolution by Senator Robert W. Singer and Assemblyman Sean T. Kean and Assemblyman David P. Rible in acknowledgment of Atlantic Health System’s “unwavering commitment to employee health and safety, unique in-house workers’ compensation case management, and sustainable program results.”
The resolution was prompted by an honorable mention that Atlantic Health System received from the 2016 Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation & Disability Management Award, better known as a Teddy Award, which has been given by Risk & Insurance® to recognize exceptional workers' compensation programs for the last 20 years.
“The leaders and staff of Atlantic Health System have worked tirelessly and earnestly in benefit of others and are recognized for their stupendous dedication and motivation that have contributed to its sterling reputation,” the resolution stated.
“We are honored by Senator Singer and the Legislature’s acknowledgement of our efforts to care for our employees as part of our commitment to building a Trusted Network of Caring,” said Rachel Leibu, MD, medical director of the Occupational Medicine Service for Atlantic Health System, who was among those on hand for the resolution’s approval in Trenton.
Atlantic Health System earned the Teddy Award through initiatives designed to reduce workplace injuries, which had been increasing. The health care organization’s Occupational Medicine Service and Occupational & Environmental Safety Department, which oversee employee health and safety collaborated with PMA Companies, part of the Old Republic International Corporation, one of the nation’s 50 largest publicly held insurance organizations, to develop solutions.
These initiatives resulted in significant improvements for employee safety, with the employee injury rate dropping 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, even while the organization continued to expand, adding facilities and employees. The organization saw an 80 percent reduction in lost work days in that time as well.
In addition, workers' compensation claims costs dropped 61 percent since 2014, and medical costs for employees also decreased by 54 percent in that time.
A key component to these efforts was the creation of a new role – the Registered Nurse Workers’ Compensation Case Coordinator – who works directly with PMA and is focused exclusively on injured employees' recoveries.
The organization now has two of these coordinators – Donna Brucker and Laurie O’ Rourke – who streamline case management for all work injuries, assist practitioners in scheduling injured staff appointments for doctors, diagnostic tests, physical and/or occupational therapy, as well as getting- transitional duty positions and transportation services for some workers and gathering other information.
Brucker and O’Rourke also do follow-up phone calls to injured workers to check on their progress, as well as ensuring they are aware of their appointments and attending those appointments.
“As we have found in population health for patients, having coordinated care for our employees helps ensure that they are receiving the care they need while also reducing health care costs,” Leibu said. “The creation of these coordinators has been vital to keeping our work force healthy and able to continue to provide excellent patient care.”
Atlantic Health System also instituted a Slips-Trips-Falls Injury Prevention campaign and annual employee and nurse Safe Defense training program, as well as a Safe Patient Handling Program.