By Jane Gervasoni, Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Public Health CommandAugust 30, 2013
It isn't hard to find a technical expert within the U.S. Army Public Health Command, but experts like Kelsey McCoskey epitomize the best qualities of an Army medical professional. McCoskey, an ergonomist and licensed occupational therapist in the USAPHC Occupational Health Sciences Portfolio, received the Joseph A. Lovell award during a ceremony Aug. 28 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
The Lovell award is the command's highest honorary award. It is given to a USAPHC civilian or military scientist, engineer, health professional or technician for exceptional initiative and creativity, innovative abilities, professional excellence and enhancement of the USAPHC's professional stature according to John Resta, USAPHC's Army Institute of Public Health director.
Lovell was the first career medical officer to serve as the Army surgeon general, and the USAPHC award honors both Lovell and the recipient of the award for their service to Army medicine.
"Lovell had an ability to use his expertise to accomplish a purpose, and Kelsey McCoskey demonstrates this same ability," said Resta, who also recognized seven previous Lovell award winners who were in attendance at the ceremony.
Col. Myrna Callison, occupational therapy consultant to the surgeon general and former Ergonomics Program manager, introduced McCoskey to the attendees by praising both her technical and interpersonal skills.
Michael Hodgson, physician and chief medical officer and director of the Office of Occupational Medicine at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, agreed with Resta. He spoke about McCoskey's work in the area of safe patient-handling.
"Kelsey was instrumental in ... the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries through her work with the safe patient-handling program within the VA and the Army," he said. "Her dedication to this effort changed the standards of practice."
McCoskey's achievements include implementation of a safe patient-handling and mobility program at Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash., according to Callison. She authored and received approval for a joint incentive proposal to fund and implement the program at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu. She also worked closely with the U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency to ensure safe patient-handling programs are incorporated into new and renovated Army healthcare facilities.
In addition McCoskey contributed to the vice chief of staff of the Army's Quality Work Environment initiative by developing an ergonomic checklist to assess conditions, functionality and safety at Army industrial base worksites. She has also worked on global and facility-specific projects in collaboration with government agencies and the civilian sector.
Maj. Gen. Dean G. Sienko, USAPHC commander, and Hodgson presented the award to McCoskey, who thanked her family and colleagues for their support during her career.
She explained that her work with safe patient-handling had been a lesson in perseverance. She spoke of long hours of data collection, briefings and implementation, and the importance of building partnerships and collaborating with others. Ultimately, she said that what she did was about people.
"Quantitatively, ergonomic injuries make up a quarter of all injuries and are high cost injuries; and qualitatively, the pain and discomfort (they cause) affect morale, productivity and ability to meet mission requirements," she explained.
McCoskey closed by saying she was fortunate to work at the USAPHC and to receive the award because it gave her the opportunity to thank the leadership and her mentors and colleagues and express her respect for the USAPHC.