Specialty Focused on Taking Care of Employees in the Workplace
By Timothy N. Lee, MD, MS, FACOEM, medical director, occupational medicine, Sentara Obici Hospital
Suffolk, VA (Dec 15, 2011) – It’s a tall order for business owners.
In today’s era of tight business budgets and a sluggish economy, business owners are challenged to consider leaner approaches in meeting their fiduciary responsibilities to their employees, customers and own business needs. When considering health care costs, executives and business owners often think that traditional insurance benefits are the only medical expenses that impact their bottom line. But that isn’t always the case.
Organizations, large and small, have realized the benefits of occupational medicine as part of an overall strategy to create a safe, productive work environment while maintaining a happier, healthier workforce.
| Dr. Timothy Lee, medical director, Occupational Medicine, Sentara Obici Hospital|
Occupational medicine provides a unique service within the medical world. Just as you would not visit a neurosurgeon for a heart problem, dealing efficiently with workplace health issues requires an experienced team of professionals — occupational medicine is the medical specialty that specializes in workplace health and safety.
Some of the services provided under the occupational medicine umbrella include preventative services, such as:
On-site flu shot program
Drug and alcohol testing
Worker’s compensation/injury care
Independent medical evaluations
Case management programs
Specialized physicals (DOT, Respirator, Asbestos)
Employee wellness programs.
Essentially, three stakeholders reap the benefits of a comprehensive occupational medicine program:
Employers – Occupational providers are keenly aware of the unique financial pressures business owners and municipalities are experiencing in today’s economy. An occupational medicine team is focused on finding cost effective solutions to the various issues employers’ face. From navigating the health and safety regulatory environment to efficiently treating worker injuries and implementing wellness programs, the occupational medicine professionals lend expertise to tailor a cost-effective program that meets the needs of the organization and its most valuable asset – its employees.
Employees — Occupational medicine focuses exclusively on employee workplace health and safety issues. Optimal health for all employees is the overarching goal of an effective occupational medicine program. Employees receive quality, customer-centered care, while engaging in improving their own health through and recovery from injuries.
Insurers — Insurers appreciate the common understanding and communication skills of experienced occupational medicine specialists. Working together as a team, the employer, the employee, occupational medicine physician and insurer strive toward the common goal of safely getting injured workers back to work as quickly as possible. Good communication is the key along with effective medical strategies utilized by the care team that result in better outcomes for all.
Sure there are ways for business owners and municipalities to become more efficient in business processes. It makes sense to stretch the dollar a bit more to create more "bang for your buck." Similarly, with workers’ health and safety, consider it a wise investment to partner with an experienced, comprehensive occupational medicine program. When a healthy employee comes to work in an environment where health and safety is supported, productivity is maximized which ultimately improves the company’s bottom line. It’s hard to beat the return on that investment!
Sentara Occupational Medicine Services, Sentara Obici Hospital
Sentara Therapy Services
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