Working to ensure worker health in challenging times

Last year was extremely challenging for everyone.

HPMC Occupational Medical Services (OMS) continued health care support to Hanford workers as the site transitioned to reduced operations and teleworking early in the year and progressed through the first two phases of remobilization of workers to the site as the year continued.

HPMC OMS’ ability to maintain occupational medical services for essential personnel on site, as well as those teleworking off site, supports the Hanford cleanup mission by ensuring the health and well-being of Hanford workers.

Changing conditions in work and safety protocols necessitated changes to the way we deliver occupational medical services and resulted in several successful activities.

Telehealth options

When the Hanford site moved to reduced operations in March, we were immediately able to shift health education to a virtual environment. Utilizing Microsoft Teams, individual and work group health education provided resources and care during an uncertain time.

As it became clear that Covid-19 precautions would continue into the foreseeable future, we established additional telehealth options for some of our work conditioning services to prepare workers for job demands, employee assistance programs and return-to-work evaluations. This advancement in access to care and assistance to workers to help them reduce their time away from work will continue as an option in post-Covid-19 operations.

Covid-19 testing, contact tracing

In response to the ongoing pandemic, HPMC OMS developed the capability to provide Covid-19 testing and occupational contact tracing for the Hanford site. In a matter of weeks, we obtained staff and materials, developed processes and procedures, and prepared to begin testing when needed.

In July, we began workplace contact tracing of workers who test positive for Covid-19.

Occupational contact tracing was coordinated with the Benton Franklin Health District, through a memorandum of understanding, supporting their community contact tracing for Hanford workers. This effort reduces the risk of virus transmission at work by quickly identifying close contacts of workers with Covid-19, isolating sick workers, quarantining
asymptomatic contacts and facilitating a safe return to work.

High patient satisfaction

HPMC OMS is extremely proud of the patient care provided during this difficult time. In 2020, we had over 19,000 patient visits. We received our first ever 100% patient satisfaction rating across all departments in May. Through 2020, we maintained a 99.7% overall positive patient satisfaction rating.

Support small businesses

In the second year of our Hanford contract, we worked diligently to identify and partner with small businesses that bring value to our work through their provision of goods and services.

We recognize that our small-business partners contribute to our innovative processes, support our customers, encourage local job creation and contribute substantially to the overall health of our local and regional economies.

We participated in various business development and networking opportunities, such as Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) events. Events like these helped us increase our contacts and contracts with local small businesses.

Our small business contracting goal for 2021 is $3.8 million and will include opportunities for businesses owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans. Specific areas of opportunity include after-hours drug-screen collections as well as cardiology, travel, maintenance and courier services.  

​HPMC OMS will continue to rise to the challenges set before us. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with the other Hanford contractors as we continue to make the health of the worker our
No. 1 priority.

Hiram S. Whitmer is president and program manager at HPMC Occupational Medical Services.

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