Occupational Medicine at Work

We recently asked our providers to share stories about their experiences in providing care at U.S. HealthWorks. We thought this piece from Dr. Alix Thorson, Managing Physician of our Lynwood, WA, clinic, provided interesting insight into some of the work-related injuries she has seen at U.S. HealthWorks. Names have been changed to protect patients’ privacy.

When an individual gets injured at work, we at U.S. HealthWorks understand that this can be a vulnerable, unpredictable and painful time in the patient’s life. This is often compounded by an uncertain economy, with jobs in the balance and companies struggling. Can U.S. HealthWorks make a difference in these patients’ lives, as well as the health of their companies?

Absolutely.

Nothing will take the place of excellent medical care and genuine empathy, but U.S. HealthWorks goes a step further by providing a level of occupational expertise critical for these patients and their employers.

Over the last seven years as a physician at the U.S. HealthWorks clinic in Lynwood, Washington, numerous examples come to mind:

Early Intervention and On-Site Help
In the spring of 2009, Frank came in with a back injury, suffered while lifting a case of soda. His back spasms were so severe that he was doubled over in pain and unable to straighten up. We fast-tracked him that day for a chiropractic adjustment, as well as physical therapy, and soon thereafter he was able to drive home much relieved. Frank was evaluated the following day by our physical therapist, and it was obvious that his early intervention and therapy accelerated his recovery and return to work. This shows how fortunate we are to have on-site physical therapy, chiropractic care and massage therapy. Our focus is not only on acute rehabilitation, but also on returning workers to their jobs quickly, safely and with a lower risk of injury recurrence.

A Helping Hand
Salvador, a Spanish-speaking patient, came to us with a nail embedded in his left hand that occurred while he was installing a roof. His trusting eyes could not conceal the fear of losing the use of his hand and his livelihood. As we guided him through his x-rays, injections and wound management, he was reassured with the help of our experienced Spanish translator. He was back to full duty after only a week, and we were thankful that we could provide skilled, efficient and cost-effective treatment for his injury.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Then there are patients like Greg, who suffered from a severe eye injury after being struck by a rock at work. He required same-day emergency care and multiple specialist follow ups. His claim, however, was subsequently rejected on a technicality. Thankfully the situation was later corrected, as was his vision. Intimate knowledge of workers’ compensation laws and communicating with claims managers and company contacts are things that greatly benefit our patients and their employers.

Getting Back to Work Safely
Thanks to our relationship with hundreds of companies, we were able to help patients like Louis, a laborer whose wife was expecting a baby in the same month as his injury. He was facing a loss of income after he fell off a truck on the job, but once we contacted his employer per our usual protocol, we were able to discuss his injuries and an appropriate modified position for him. He started a light duty job with his employer the next day. Louis, like most of our patients, was able to work and continue treatment of his injuries simultaneously, resulting in improved short- and long-term outcomes for him and his company.

U.S. HealthWorks provides outstanding occupational care, and that can make a difference to the hardworking people that need our help. Rewards in my position are many. I count among my favorites the firm, thankful handshake of Vincent, a landscaper whom we discharged after successfully returning him to his job from a serious knee injury. He left our clinic trailing fresh dirt from his work boots and a big smile on his face.

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