Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has hired its own occupational medicine contractor for the first time in at least four decades.
The Department of Energy national laboratory, which historically has used the Hanford medical contractor, has signed a $7 million contract with AnovaWorks of Wenatchee. AnovaWorks also has an occupational health clinic in Richland and has government-related contracts in Washington and South Carolina.
The change was made to make services more accessible to staff, said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller. AnovaWorks will be located on the east side of the PNNL campus in the Laboratory Support Building and will provide services there exclusively to national laboratory staff.
"Also, our occupational medical services needs are somewhat different than those required by the Hanford work force due to the different nature our work," Koller said.
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Hanford workers do environmental cleanup, which includes dealing with hazardous chemical and radiological contaminants, and construction work. PNNL staff are engaged in scientific research.
PNNL now gets occupational health services from CSC Hanford Occupational Health Services, formerly AdvanceMed Hanford, which has offices in central Hanford and Richland. It also used CSC's predecessor, the Hanford Environmental Health Foundation, which provided Hanford services for 38 years before losing the contract to CSC in 2004.
On Oct. 1, AnovaWorks will start a three-year contract at PNNL with two optional one-year extensions. The contract covers medical surveillance, prevention, and limited treatment and rehabilitation for work-related injures.
PNNL staff will be sent to AnovaWorks for work-related injuries that don't require a trip to the hospital or emergency room. AnovaWorks also will provide medical exams to those workers who are required to have routine checks because of working conditions, such as the use of respirators or potential exposure to beryllium. In addition, AnovaWorks will provide services such as flu shots and workshops on healthy living.
AnovaWorks said on its website that it has a record of saving money in the Worker's Compensation system. Three percent of its patients required time loss of more than 21 days, compared with a 14 percent average in other Eastern Washington participants, according to a study by the Center for Occupational Health and Education.
"Allowing injured or ill employees to remain on the job, even in an alternate capacity, helps promote positive patient outcomes, diminish the potential of partial or permanent disabilities, and support employers in controlling workers' compensation expenses," AnovaWorks said.
PNNL has about 4,700 staff, including 4,300 in Richland.
"We have worked very hard to develop the knowledge base, skills and experience to compete against the biggest and best for a prestigious contract like this," said Dr. Jim Johnson, AnovaWorks chief executive, in a statement. "We feel that our hard work has paid off."
Hanford workers also may see a change in their occupational medicine provider in the next few years. The Department of Energy has accepted bids for an estimated $102 million contract to provide occupational medicine services at Hanford, as CSC's contract is expected to expire in 2014.