Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association
Leading Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Welcome to the WOEMA WINDOW, our e-newsletter sent to members by email on a monthly basis. The newsletter links to this page. Below are the items that appeared in the February 2017 issue.

Message from WOEMA’s President  Robert Blink, MD

It’s a pleasure to take over after Dr. Scott Levy as WOEMA’s President. The past year was a very successful year for WOEMA. Of particular mention: Scott’s effort to build a stronger relationship with the occupational medicine residencies and his initiation of a new External Affairs Committee – both are coming into full blossom this year as significant projects.

However, not all is so rosy: This is is a heck of a time to be an OEM doc. Both the O and the E may be challenged soon, at least at the federal level. We need to be ready to respond, although we don’t know yet what will happen in detail.

I stumbled across some words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Science is our light, and our medical care is the love. We are uniquely positioned as occupational physicians to push those two things forward. We need to work together to make those two elements even stronger and to provide leadership.

WOEMA is a small organization, but as our legislative advocate Don Schinske says, we can “punch above our weight” by being a viable, honest broker for information, and being the small dog’s tail wagging the somewhat larger dog of ACOEM. And together we have friends and allies for a significant impact. It all comes from science and caring, and doing those things well.

Our goals: Service, Leadership and Education appear on our logo, all three very important. And we need to survive and thrive as an association: financially, as an organization, and in leadership. We need to continue to attract young and mid-career doctors. We are at a high-water mark for dues paying members but always need to strive for more; it would be wonderful to increase our membership even more over the next year as well as to strengthen organizational affiliations.

To that point, external affairs will be key. At our December meeting, the WOEMA Board voted to create a new External Affairs Task Force, with an eye to ask our loyal cadre of experienced leaders, including former WOEMA presidents, to tackle various issues regarding our relationships with other entities, working together to create new paths. Finally, we will keep an eye on the leadership pipeline – making sure we continue to get good people coming into WOEMA as members, and WOEMA members coming leadership positions in ACOEM.

2017: Public Policy Platform & Legislative Affairs Committee Update

WOEMA is dedicated to legislative and regulatory advocacy in our five member states (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah). We recognize the need for more effective laws and regulations in a number of areas related to occupational and environmental health and focus on:

  • Promoting the prevention of occupational illness and injuries as the most cost-effective method of improving the health of workers. This includes improved surveillance/tracking of workplace hazards, illnesses, and injuries; improved delivery of workers’ compensation services to low wage workers; and improvement of OSHA Standards (both Federal and State).
  • Promoting universal health coverage for the American workforce
  • Supporting efforts to prevent global climate change
  • Supporting public health efforts to promote a healthy and sustainable “Built Environment” as we recognize that these issues impact the general public as well as workers and employers
  • Supporting increased funding for OEM Graduate Medical Education
  • Encouraging adequate OEM physician staffing at State agencies

Our Policy Support Goals:

  • To encourage incorporation of current evidence into State OSHA standards
  • To provide expertise to the appropriate state Divisions of Workers’ Compensation on issues as they arise (e.g. electronic reporting, etc.)
  • To support efforts by academic and governmental groups and NGOs to improve workplace safety and health for all workers (e.g., enhanced data collection, care provision to low-wage workers)

Our 2017 Legislative/Regulatory Priorities:

I. Advancing Quality in Occupational Medicine Services

  • Evidence-Based Medicine in clinical practice and medical-legal evaluations

— Improved education & training for physicians who perform medical-legal evaluations, including report writing]

— Education regarding best medication prescribing practices and adherence to formularies

  • Disability Management and facilitating functional recovery (including Return To Work (RTW))
  • Promote the recognition of the role of lifestyle factors/comorbidities on work
  • Promote quality in coding and care provision
    Coding- ACOEM coding, no up-coding, promote ACOEM coding methodology
    Utilization Review (UR)—how to improve UR process (see WOEMA whitepaper)
    Credentialing of Occupational Medicine providers
  • Promote disclosure of outcome measures
    — Provider: opiate prescribing, RTW rates, costs, non-certifications of treatment requests and appeals
    — Carrier: UR approval and denial rates, complaints about UR
  • Explore benefits of transition from 5th to 6th AMA guidelines

II. Addressing Environmental Public Health Issues/Concerns

  • Provide input on regulation and policy on climate change efforts and funding that involves public health and environmental health departments
  • Provide expertise and support to public health agencies regarding the use of safer substances and practices to replace those that adversely impact human and environmental health (e.g., lead, pesticides) Download Policy Platform (PDF)

Public Policy Policy Platform adopted by the WOEMA Legislative Affairs Committee, January 2017

Get the Latest Update from The Legislative Affairs Committee (2/17/17)

Western Occupational Health Conference (WOHC)

Hawaii is calling you to WOEMA’s 61st annual conference, the Western Occupational Health Conference (WOHC) September 13-16, 2017 at the Wailea Beach Marriott ($269/night.) Check out this year’s exciting schedule of post-graduate and plenary sessions, off-site excursions and tours, and activities to promote physical and mental well-being. For registration information, click here

WOHC 2017 Conference Planning Committee chaired by Dr. Bernyce Peplowski and comprised of 32 WOEMA members is hard at work developing content that is relevant to the occupational and environmental medical professional. Built with you in mind, this year’s educational sessions will keep you at the top of your field. Below is the current schedule at a glance:


9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

(WST-1) Civil Support Team (CST) 101

Important Note: This tour is off-site on the island of O’ahu. Participants should plan to fly into O’ahu and then to Maui, following the tour.

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

(WST-2) Maui Space Surveillance Complex (TBD)

A behind the scenes tour of the Pentagon’s largest telescope, located at the summit of Mount Haleakala.

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Exhibitor Set-up

11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Registration Lounge Open

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery Tour (TBD)

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Aloha Reception with Exhibitors

7:30 PM – 10:00 PM Dine-Arounds (optional)

Attendees will be able to sign-up for group dinners and connect with their colleagues in an intimate setting. Reservations will be pre-arranged for each group; however, the cost of dinner will be the responsibility of the individual


6:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration Lounge Open

6:00 AM – 7:00 AM Continental Breakfast

7:00 AM – 11:30 AM Concurrent Post-Graduate (PG) Sessions

(PG-1) Panel Discussion – AMA Disability Text

(PG-2) Power Ortho

This session will discuss what is new or has changed and how these changes will affect case management. The basics of radiology will also be explored – signs not to miss and what to order and when. Evidence-based medicine will also be discussed.

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM Morning Refreshment Break

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Concurrent Afternoon Sessions

Well-Being Track

Carve Our Your Life & Physician Vitality – Discussion will focus on mindfulness and how to make physician vitality part of your program.

Neurology Track

Topics will include:

Head trauma

Deciphering neck pain and arm pain

Lower back pain and lower extremity pain

Neurology fitness for duty

Interpretation of nCV and EMG


Functional neurological conditions

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Vendor Showcase

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Welcome Reception with Exhibitors

5:15 PM – 8:15 PM (PG-3) Trade Secrets & Essentials of Building and Growing a Successful IME Practice

5:15 PM – 6:30 PM An Evening with the Professor – CA Formulary Panel

6:45 PM – 8:00 PM An Evening with the Profession – Neurology

Neurological exam in didactic form

Neurological exam pearls demonstration


6:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration Lounge Open

6:00 AM – 7:00 AM Continental Breakfast

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM Keynote Session: Environmental & Sugar Cane

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Plenary Session I: Power Pharma

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Morning Refreshment Break

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM Plenary Session II: Med Legal Evaluation – A Step by Step Guide

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM Afternoon Refreshment Break

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Plenary Session III: Prevention & Wellness – Corporate & Medical Center

2:30 PM – 5:00 PM Vendor Showcase

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Annual Business Meeting & Reception

6:00 PM – 9:30 PM WOHC Signature Event – Taste of Maui

Note: this event is an additional fee.


6:00 AM – 1:00 PM Registration Lounge Open

6:00 AM – 7:00 AM Continental Breakfast

7:00 AM – 8:15 AM Keynote Sessions:

The Positivity Solution

Recognizing & Address our Unconscious Bias in All Aspects of Medicine

8:15 AM – 9:45 AM Plenary Session I: Environmental

9:45 AM – 10:15 AM Morning Refreshment Break

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM Plenary Session II: Plight of the Contingent Farm Worker

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Plenary Session III: Physical Medicine

1:00 PM

Conference Adjourns – Enjoy Maui!

Attendees are encouraged to take the rest of the afternoon to enjoy what Maui has to offer:

  • Canoe
  • Paddleboard
  • Surf
  • Tours
  • and so much more!

8:30 PM – 9:30 PM After-Glow Reception

Spend the last few moments on the island with your colleagues, reflecting on the week and celebrating your newfound ideas and techniques with a refreshing cocktail by moonlight.


FREE CME: WOEMA Webinar Series

The next free CME webinar features Dr. Matthew Zahn, currently serving as Medical Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Assessment for the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Topic: “Outbreak of Mycobacterial Infections in a Dental Clinic,” Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm PST.

In the fall of 2017, the Orange County Health Care Agency responded to an outbreak of atypical mycobacterial infection in the patient population of a local dental clinic. Over 60 children were hospitalized due to this outbreak, which is the largest dental mycobacterial outbreak reported in this country. Aspects discussed will include assessment and testing of the facility water system, assessment of dental provider practices, and the epidemiology of community outbreaks of atypical mycobacterial infection.

Learning Objectives – Participants will be able to:

  • Become familiar with environmental sources of atypical mycobacterial infection.
  • Learn the basics of assessing water systems for potential mycobacterial contamination.
  • Review the epidemiologic progression of an outbreak of mycobacterial infection.

Dr. Matthew Zahn currently serves as Medical Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Assessment for the Orange County Health Care Agency. Dr. Zahn received his doctorate in medicine from St. Louis University School of Medicine. From 2004 through 2011, he served as Medical Director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. During that time, he also served as an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He has served on multiple national public health committees, including currently serving as the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Click here to register.

Join Your WOEMA Colleagues in Denver!

A networking reception for WOEMA members will be held during the American Occupational Health Conference (AOHC) in Denver on Monday, April 24th at 5:45 PM MDT. The reception will be located in the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. We hope you’ll plan to join us and connect with your Western friends and colleagues. RSVP to join the mailing list to receive an invitation to this event.

WOEMA WINDOW Newsletter Gets a Makeover

This is the first issue of our new “quick-read” newsletter design made possible through the generous support of Concentra. WOEMA members receive it monthly as an email with links to content on this website. In the months ahead, we plan to fill the panes of our WOEMA WINDOW Newsletter with interesting and relevant content. We invite members to send comments and article submissions to: woema@woema.org — Troy Ross, MD, Editor