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Injured UI employees now sent to North Liberty

BY MORGAN OLSEN | JANUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Starting this week, UI workers who are injured on the job won’t have a choice about where to go for treatment.

While UI employees previously had the option to be treated at the Workers’ Health Clinic at the UI Hospitals and Clinics or UI HealthWorks in North Liberty, workers will now only be able to seek treatment at the North Liberty location.

Under the workers’ compensation program in Iowa, the state controls who the providers are for all state employees with work-related injuries. The new policy won’t affect referrals made to specialists or injuries requiring emergency treatment.

“Apart from a change in location, this should not have any effect,” Henri Cuddihy, the medical director for UI HealthWorks, wrote in an e-mail. “We have been seeing university employees for years. UI HealthWorks and the Workers’ Health Clinic have always provided quality care. That will not change.”

According to the UI operations manual, employees who are injured at work are asked to report the incident to a supervisor and go directly to the clinic in North Liberty or the emergency room if immediate attention is required.

The employee or employer involved is then obligated to report the injury to the University Benefits Office.

Richard Saunders, a senior associate director of UI Human Resources, estimates that approximately 1,000 of the nearly 25,000 UI employees are injured on the job each year.

While many employees do use the North Liberty location, he estimated the bulk were going to UIHC, though no numbers were available.

Saunders said he had no information on why the state officials made the decision. He e-mailed all employees this week to inform them of the change.

Officials at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services were unable able to comment on the change.

“Some employees thought it would be a problem with time and transportation,” Saunders said. “For others, it was a non-event.”

UI employees who seek care at the North Liberty clinic will be reimbursed for gas money.

Employees who work at offices with university vehicles may also choose to be driven to North Liberty in those vehicles.

“I really don’t have any problem with it,” said Shonda Monette, a laboratory specialist in the chemistry department. “I wouldn’t be opposed to driving to North Liberty if I were injured.”
Until the Workers’ Health Clinic eventually closes, it will continue to see patients who were being treated there before the change was made, Saunders said.

“The real con to the whole thing is the loss of time in which employees will be away from work,” Saunders said.


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