WorkCompCentral’s 2019 Comp Laude awards and gala brought workers’ compensation stakeholders together to share, educate and celebrate those who are dedicated to improving outcomes — and the industry as a whole.
As the 2017 recipient of the David J. DePaolo Summa Comp Laude award, I hold this event close to my heart; I always appreciate the opportunity to meet, speak with and learn alongside so many fellow workers’ comp professionals. This year, I had the honor of hosting the conference’s opening session, a fireside chat with injured workers and a spouse. It was a rare glimpse into how the system is working — and where it can improve — from a unique and critical perspective. I wanted the conversation to give each speaker a platform to share their stories, and to inspire the audience with their resiliency and positivity. I also wanted each of us to take a moment and reflect on the importance of our work.
Erin Husman, Billy Parker, and Jeremy and Esperanza Romero delivered beyond expectation. Each panelist opened up about their injuries, medical treatment and recovery journey, and, most importantly, their life aspirations. Erin, a paraplegic, lives independently; because she’s so dedicated to her rehabilitation she’s able to walk much of the time. Billy, a double upper extremity amputee, has turned his passion for workplace safety into a business, “Lending a Hand.” Jeremy, injured in the line of duty, was the first police officer to use robotic legs that allow him to walk and spend time out of his wheelchair. His wife Esperanza talked about supporting Jeremy while also managing her busy career and being mom to their teenage son.
Recovery and the aftermath of an injury are scary and unknown, difficult to navigate and fraught with challenges. The claims and clinical teams assisting workers and their families after an injury and throughout the process are critical for creating positive outcomes. These workers are so committed to recovery, independence and giving back to our industry. They’re eager to partner with us so that we can learn and improve from their experiences and help other injured workers along the way.
Advocacy, compassion, empathy and transparency are common conversations in workers’ compensation — but most claims programs and products are driven by process and regulation. We should consider how the journey of the injured worker shapes experience and engagement, and use that insight to improve the system and its outcomes.
If you weren’t able to hear from Erin, Billy, Jeremy and Esperanza at this year’s conference, you still can! To watch the injured worker panel from Comp Laude, visit Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark; we’ll replay the injured worker panel on November 19, 2019. Registration is coming soon at OutFrontIdeas.com.