Beginning in May, 2008, Saltzer Medical Group rededicated itself to developing a quality Occupational Medicine program in the greater Boise area. With clinics in both Meridian and Nampa, their hope is to offer quality care and service to both the employers and employees of the Treasure Valley. The first move was to find a board certified and residency trained Occupational Medicine physician. This was accomplished when Dr. Howard Shoemaker took the position with Saltzer Medical Group. Doctor Shoemaker, who had been a part of the Primary Health Occupational Medicine group, left for the rains of Oregon in 2005. During his time in Oregon his wife had continued to operate as a real-estate agent with the Tamarack development in Donnelly, Idaho. Because of this business interest, when Saltzer Medical Group offered Dr. Shoemaker the opportunity to return to Boise he decided that it was time to return to Idaho.
For the past thirty years, Dr. Shoemaker has practiced exclusively occupational medicine. Why is this important to area employers? The reasons are way too numerous for one short blog. However, some of the primary reasons include an aging workforce, getting your workers back to work as quickly as possible, and finally to provide the highest quality of care for the injured worker.
Lets first address the aging workforce. As we age, there is a natural amount of deterioration which occurs within the body. Whether it is cartilage between our bones, or the natural de-calcification of our bones, it is important to have a skilled specialist who can identify between what is a work related injury and what is just a part of being a baby-boomer. As any claims adjuster, safety manager or HR manager will attest to, a miss-diagnosed injury can become a financial nightmare within the Workers Comp system. As Dr. Shoemaker frequently states, “it is 10% of the cases that creates 90% of the expenses”.
Second, getting workers back to work is extremely important to the company’s bottom line. In a study conducted by Lilly Ramphal, MD, MPH, she states that companies pay $62 billion dollars in lost productivity or “lost time”. This translates into approximately 42% of work related injuries expenses in the United States ($140 billion). Without the proper diagnosis of the work-related injury, or the granting of excessive time off due to injury, this number would escalate even further out of control. As Dr. Shoemaker has frequently stated, “you always want to do what is best for the patient, and in virtually every instance what is best for the patient is to get them back to work”. Dr. Shoemaker has told me many times, he believes that a worker is like an athlete and it is his job to get them “back in the game”. By doing so, the employee will heal faster.
Finally, everyone wants the employee to receive a high level of care. By properly identifying the injury, the employee can begin an aggressive regimen of treatment. In doing so, they can get back to work and continue to do what they were trained to do. By having a specialist monitor the worker’s progress, success is more likely to occur.
Because of the above reasons, we welcome Dr. Shoemaker back to the Treasure Valley.