The workforce in the Yampa Valley has a new health partner. YampaWorks, the region's first comprehensive occupational medicine program, will begin serving employers and employees next week.
"We are the only clinic in the area devoted 100 percent to employer-employee medical services," said Nurse Practitioner Linda Starks. "From pre-employment physicals and drug screenings to helping injured workers maneuver through the Workers' Compensation system, our sole focus is occupational medicine."
YampaWorks, a new service of Yampa Valley Medical Center, is located in the medical office building on the hospital campus on Central Park Drive. It is led by Director Ted Morton, a longtime employee of SportsMed and YVMC.
Morton manages the education and prevention programs, including onsite visits to businesses. He will provide advice on work station setup, work processes and physical environment. Morton also will teach classes aimed to prevent injury, such as proper ergonomics and back strength.
Starks, a nurse practitioner, brings 12 years of experience in occupational and emergency medicine at Poudre Valley Health System to her new role. Registered Nurses Meg Montgomery and Dawn Finch are the clinic nurses and case managers. Both have served as YVMC employee health nurses for many years.
YampaWorks also will utilize two physicians who are accredited workers' comp specialists, Dr. Fred Scherr and Dr. Ann Yanigi.
The Feb. 4 startup of YampaWorks has been many months in the making. Morton began planning the new program in September 2006 with a regional employer feasibility study to determine the need for this type of service.
"The feedback we received from regional employers was very positive in regard to an occupational health-specific clinic," Morton said. "Workers' comp is an area of particular concern to businesses."
"YampaWorks is the one-stop site for medical management of workers' comp injuries," Starks explained. "We know how the system works, and we understand how confusing it can be for the employer and the employee.
"Our case managers will guide the worker through the process and communicate important information to the employer. Both can be assured of a neutral, professional medical evaluation, a plan to treat the injury, steady monitoring of improvement and guidance on interim work restrictions."
The list of services offered by YampaWorks is lengthy. On the pre-employment side, the clinic will offer annual physical exams, including those required and regulated by the federal Department of Transportation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mining Safety and Health Administration.
"We are up-to-date on all the requirements, including recent changes," Starks said. "These regulatory physicals are required for anyone seeking employment as a trucker, commercial driver or miner. We also do respirator fittings for fire fighters and people employed as painters or auto body shop workers."
Any employer who has a hearing conservation program can send staff for an audiogram at YampaWorks. The clinic also will perform pulmonary function tests. To better serve patients, YVMC has relocated a blood draw station across the hall to be within YampaWorks.
Additionally, YampaWorks plans to provide immunizations and minor emergent care, including injury evaluation and suturing for work-related injuries. Clients can be sent for diagnostic tests such as X-rays and referred to specialists for treatment.
"We're excited to bring YampaWorks to a growing community with ever-changing occupational health needs," Morton said.
"Our goal is to provide employers and employees with the best service possible," Starks added. "Occupational medicine is all we do, and we are bringing together our focus, vision and expertise to serve the Yampa Valley."
YampaWorks can be reached at 970-871-2449.
Christine McKelvie is public relations director of Yampa Valley Medical Center.