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Medicine for the workplace

Program targets health on the job

Whether you’re at a desk, on the road or on your feet, the majority of working Americans spend a significant portion of their days on the job. Unfortunately, as workers put in more and more hours, they also increase their risk of experiencing work-related injuries or illness.

In 2012, Augusta Health began working with the surrounding community to address the need for an occupational medicine program that would make local workplaces safer and healthier for employees. David Krieger, DO, who served as an occupational physician in the military for 27 years, joined Augusta Health to help build the Occupational Health program, known as Workplace Wellness, which officially opened in January 2013.

“There was a huge need for a program like this,” says Annamay Felkey, practice administrator for the program, “and we’ve continued to grow the program over the past three and a half years.”

Workplace Wellness offers a number of services for companies, with the ultimate goal of reducing medical care and wage-replacement costs, and maintaining and restoring employee productivity. “Occupational medicine is, in part, getting out into the industry and seeing what workers do,” Dr. Krieger explains. “That employee could be working on an assembly line or working in an office and have chronic back pain from standing or sitting for long hours.”

As an example of meeting a company’s needs, after visiting a local industry, Dr. Krieger determined the company needed a hearing protection program in order to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Subsequently, Dr. Krieger and Workplace Wellness staff helped develop the program, and now do annual hearing tests and follow-ups for training and compliance.

Augusta Health Workplace Wellness also collaborates with Augusta Health Urgent Care to provide occupational health services such as initial treatment for on-the-job injuries, Department of Transporation exams and drug screenings.

This is a service that companies — no matter how large or small — have a need for and can benefit from, says Felkey. “The main advantage of the program is that we’re able to partner with these companies and listen to their needs,” she says.