Occupational Health Program Joins Respected International Coalition

12/17/99    Portland, Ore.

Membership Brings Additional Resources and National Recognition to Program.

In 1997, approximately 91,000 Oregon workers were injured or became ill on the job. While workplace injuries are on the decline, physicians and staff in the Occupational Health Program at Oregon Health Sciences University believe that figure is still too high. This month, the program joins an international network of health care providers in a continuing effort to improve the health of the nation's workforce. OHSU's Occupational Health Program is now a proud member of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a highly respected consortium of specialized health care providers.

The AOEC is composed of more than 60 clinics dedicated to identifying, reporting and preventing occupational and environmental health hazards. Members include such highly regarded institutions as Johns Hopkins University, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital. A major goal of the AOEC is the pooling of information to better enable physicians' diagnosis and treatment of workplace and environmental illnesses. The group does this, in part, by maintaining its own computerized, shared database. This information is used to compare disease trends, locate disease sources and develop better therapies. OHSU's program also will have access to AOEC research funds provided by the National Institutes of Health. These funds will be used to pinpoint health risks in the workplace and treat illness.

Gary Rischitelli, M.D., M.P.H., J.D., medical director of the Occupational Health Program at OHSU, calls this month's announcement a tremendous honor for the program and the university as a whole. "Membership in the AOEC is a prestigious achievement due to the strict requirements each participating program must meet to be considered," said Rischitelli. "Our invitation to join is the direct result of years of hard work by dedicated staff members, and the active participation of Oregon employers and employees."

Founded in 1985, the Occupational Health Program at OHSU has remained dedicated to the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of work-related health problems. Among its many services, the program offers workplace evaluations, health hazard reviews, industrial hygiene evaluations and medical surveillance exams. OHSU's Occupational Health Program has formed partnerships with numerous companies and agencies to improve and maintain the health of their employees. Those partnerships include more than 100 public agencies and corporations in Oregon.