Editor's note: Writer Susan Gurevitz interviewed Stanley Hupfeld, president and CEO of Integris Health. Hupfeld has overseen the operations of Integris Health in that capacity for more than 15 years. During that time, the health-care organization launched
its No-Lift safety program, designed to reduce workers' comp incidences and costs--and simply to keep its workers from injuring themselves.
Susan Gurevitz: How does workers' compensation fit into your management philosophy?
Stanley Hupfeld: We consider ourselves very focused on being the very best employer that we can be. So we're proactive. Sitting back and waiting for workers' comp problems to happen is not a very good solution. So we're more comprehensive in our approach.
Gurevitz: What convinced you that the risk management approach, the No-Lift policy, was the way to go?
Hupfeld: Up until then we had been inconsistent, and we needed to take a more pervasive view. Like most hospitals, we have an aging work force, so we needed to do something to keep our workers safe from injuries.
Gurevitz: Integris has spent $2.3 million on safety devices and equipment since 2000. That's a major expenditure. Have you budgeted to spend more as needed?
Hupfeld: Yes, we have budgeted for whatever it takes. After all, we have a $100 million capital budget every year, so $2.3 million is not that major an expenditure. Besides, with the savings we've generated--$2.7 million annually--it pays for itself in a year or two. Plus, it's just a smart business thing to do.
Gurevitz: What's been the board's response?
Hupfeld: They don't necessarily understand all the details of workers' comp, but they're extremely proud of our program and savings. The awards we've earned are evidence of our success. They've been very supportive.
Gurevitz: From your viewpoint, what are the biggest challenges in workers' comp that lie ahead of your organization?
Hupfeld: Our work force is older now. The average age of our nurses is 42, and older people are even more susceptible to injuries. So we have to have the willpower to be consistent and offer the encouragement to do so. Plus, we never can overlook the importance of our return-to-work programs and case management. The equipment will help prevent the injuries.
November 1, 2006
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