By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor
Have you heard the one about the wife who didn't want her federally employed husband to return to work even though he had been cleared by his doctor for his compensable injury?
Sue Wetherington has. The president of St. Augustine, Fla.-based G.S.S. & Associates and a 27-year veteran of the U.S. National Guard and architect of its workers' compensation program heard it right in her very own ear, with the wife on the phone telling her that under no circumstances was her husband coming back to work.
Seems he was doing too good a job with the grocery shopping and picking up the kids from childcare. Problem was that the husband was on the other line with Sue at the same time as his wife, saying, "Take me back, take me back."
"I am not the person you want to be telling that to," said Wetherington, referring to what the wife was saying.
In her "come on in and have a piece of pie honey" Southern accent, Wetherington spun this tale and many others during her preconference seminar on workers' compensation program and handbook development on Tuesday of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo that is being held this week in Las Vegas.
Wetherington carries herself with the air of someone who has heard plenty, but a few folks in the crowd of 70-plus federal employees who attended her four-hour symposium had some stories that she hadn't heard.
How about the one about the Web site called Fakedoctors.com, which provides, in total violation of federal law of course, phony medical information for use in filing workers' compensation claims?
She had not.
Had she heard the one about the Web site, utilized by employees of the U.S. Department of Defense, the sole purpose of which is to share information on how to gin the federal workers' compensation system?
She had not.
"Oh my," said Wetherington. "Oh my."
It seems like there are lots of stories to tell among those beleaguered human resource management souls who have to digest and comprehend the acronyms and regulations that comprise the stock and trade of a position in the federal government.
Apart from the named focus of Wetherington's workshop on Tuesday were several overriding themes. Among them, the fact that all federal workers' compensation managers are in this together; how saving taxpayers' money and giving federal employees the proper coverage are not mutually exclusive; and how good communication, between employees and managers, between managers and those that manage them, all of them together riding herd on and documenting claims properly, is paramount if federal workers' compensation claims are to be managed properly.
Got a question? Pick up the phone and call Sue Wetherington. She's practically begging you to. Better yet, catch the rest of her presentations this week at Vegas, as she digs further into the art of federal workers' compensation claims management.
(Read our write-up and commentary on Tuesday's other preconference symposium, The 7-Year Itch: Renewing Passion for Your Return-to-Work Program.)
November 18, 2008
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