Saint Peter’s Healthcare Recognized for Workers’ Comp, Disability Management Efforts

Organization receives national award for reducing workplace injuries and addressing employees’ mental wellbeing

New Brunswick-based Saint Peter’s Healthcare System has won the Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, also known as the Teddy Award. The Teddy Award, established in 1994, was named in honor of President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who introduced the first piece of significant workers’ compensation legislation in the U.S.

Saint Peter’s was recognized as a 2021 Teddy Award winner along with Jet Blue Airways Corporation, General Mills and the City of Philadelphia.

Passionate about creating a best practices workers’ compensation program that was second to none, Saint Peter’s enhanced its employee injury prevention program, greatly expanded employee health and wellness initiatives, and implemented a workers’ compensation program with an employee advocacy approach. The healthcare system was recognized with the Teddy Award for its all-encompassing workplace safety program which significantly reduced employee injuries over a four-year period and for its dynamic return-to-work program and support of employees’ mental wellbeing.

According to the award sponsor, PMA Companies, Teddy Award winning companies have several core characteristics in common, including doing everything possible to protect their most valuable asset – their people – and striving daily to reduce workplace risks.

“Saint Peter’s is very proud to receive the Teddy Award,” said Leslie D. Hirsch, FACHE, president and CEO of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. “It has always been our utmost priority to ensure the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of our employees. Receiving this national honor reinforces the results of our efforts to keep our workforce safe, and to have been recognized in a year wrought with additional challenges brought on by the pandemic, makes the award even more meaningful.”

The organization’s return-to-work program allows injured workers to take on modified assignments, even outside of their departments, until they are ready to return to their normal responsibilities. In addition to this engaging and creative return-to-work program, the healthcare system developed a workplace safety program focusing on preventing common hospital injuries, such as strains and slip and fall injuries, and fatigue from the challenges resulting from the pandemic.

“Our return-to-work program laid the groundwork for successfully reassigning our employees to fill new temporary roles created during the pandemic,” said Linda Vance, RN, BSN, COHN-S/CM, manager of employee health at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. “For example, we reassigned nurses from units throughout the hospital or outpatient areas to care for an increased number of patients on COVID units or administer COVID vaccines to our community through our COVID vaccine clinics. The philosophy behind our return-to-work program enabled our employees to easily, and safely, transition to new work environments until we were able to return them to their unit or department. This proved to be a benefit not only to our employees but to our patients and community during unprecedented times.”

At the height of the pandemic, Saint Peter’s mobilized an incident response team that met daily, rapidly implementing new safety protocols and disseminating information on maintaining a healthy and safe environment and reducing the spread of the coronavirus. During this time, Saint Peter’s nurses launched a support group called “Masks Off” to help manage the emotional toll of the pandemic. In addition, the organization’s employee assistance program offered unlimited, private counseling sessions for employees. ‘Sanctuary’ spaces were also created providing employees with a respite from the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and allowing them to re-energize in a relaxing environment.

“Small actions and a commitment to understanding how to prevent employee injuries while reinforcing employee resiliency can lead to a successful workers’ compensation program,” said Vance. “Start with one employee at a time; one injury or circumstance at a time. That’s what we did and our employees and our patients are continuing to benefit from these efforts.”

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