Nilvia Vazquez is pictured performing an ergonomic assessment on a warehouse employee's functional job task.
The St. Luke’s University Health Network Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Care Now is celebrating 35 years of distinction in service to the local community by providing workplace solutions for employers and employees in the greater Lehigh Valley and New Jersey areas. Over the course of its history, the department has grown from a handful of locations to 22 Care Now clinics that serve patients throughout the greater Lehigh Valley region. The department is continuing to expand services to provide excellence in patient care, close to where patients live.
With the Expansion of Care Now facilities, the Occupational and Environmental Medicine department has also evolved to move beyond evaluation and treatment of workplace injury to address care and prevention and provide a number of customizable contract services to employers. These services include pre-employment screening and physicals, lab work, and a host of health and wellness programs.
Innovative, evidence-based programs such as the Worksite Injury Prevention Program offer employers cost-saving solutions, while bettering the health and well-being of the employee population. These comprehensive offerings provide employers continuous partnership and integral assistance in navigating Worker’s Compensation claims and meeting compliance standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“It is my distinct pleasure to work side by side with our employers in the Lehigh Valley, where safety is their number one concern,” said Dr. Michael Sidhom, who was appointed to medical director of the department in 2021. In that role, he leads a workforce of board-certified physicians, advanced practitioners, nurse case managers, educators, and ancillary staff.
“Lehigh Valley’s workforce is who I care for, both in and out of the clinic,” he added. “There is a great sense of humility and personal reward to be given the opportunity to help hard-working individuals -- who may have sustained an unfortunate workplace injury -- return to their productive lives to continue providing for themselves, their families, and even their community”.
The evolution and growth of the department has gone hand-in-hand with the region’s economic development, according to Ben Guerin, manager of business development for the department of Occupational Medicine. “This area has really seen an economic boom over the past few years – just look at the continued growth of warehouses,” he said. “And with more employment opportunities, we’ve seen a greater need for occupational medicine.”
The success of the program is fundamentally attributable to the individualized patient care and coordination with insurers and health care professionals to treat the injured worker and facilitate their return to work while minimizing lost time, he said. “A distinct advantage for the patient is the communication and coordination between the department and the vast St. Luke’s network, including orthopedics and general surgery. That is a real benefit for treating the employees and getting them back to work.”