By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher (CECOM)March 19, 2018
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa.--A team of medical professionals committed to the health and welfare of depot employees occupy rooms that originally housed the depot dispensary in the 1950s.
Although the roles and responsibilities of the facility and staff have changed to keep pace with the needs of Tobyhanna Army Depot, the medical mission remains the same; help employees stay healthy when at work.
The Army Occupational Health Clinic, located in the basement of the administration building boasts a medical doctor, nurses, industrial hygiene specialists and administrative experts. The facility is equipped to provide a number of medical services, including routine examinations, first aid, immunizations, vision screenings, and breathing and hearing tests.
The clinic is a tenant organization attached to Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, New York, and is open to depot and tenant employees. Until 2006, the dispensary, then U.S. Army Health Clinic, also served the depot's military and retiree populations and included primary care services, a pharmacy, and dental and x-ray facilities.
Staff members provide occupational medicine for the civilian workforce up to and including limited palliative care on a daily basis, explained Adam Chase, health system specialist. The goal of palliative care is to help people with minor illnesses feel better by treating their symptoms and allowing them to finish their shift.
"We help people manage the limitations due to injury or illness," Chase said. "Case in point, if an employee can't stand or sit for long periods of time, it's up to the clinicians to define these limitations for management."
A nine-year veteran of the clinic described some of her responsibilities. As an occupational health nurse she performs daily tasks, such as drawing labs, performing pulmonary function tests and conducting electrocardiograms. In addition, she spearheads a yearly program that provides on-site vaccinations to hundreds of depot personnel.
The medical team interacts with depot organizations to meet or maintain recurring Army and U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. For instance, the Army says extensive use of computer screens could require employees to have their eyes tested regularly. Or, industrial hygiene personnel may conduct workplace evaluations based on environmental or safety concerns.
Fundamental goals at Tobyhanna relate to assuring workers are fit to carry out their work duties safely and effectively, and ensuring the workplace is not adversely impacting the health of workers, according to Dr. Richard Lippin, clinic chief. He said the clinic also administers exams for pre-placement, deployment, fitness for duty and the medical surveillance program.
"I really like working with the depot's great clinic team and patients who have a positive attitude about work and life," Lippin said. "Even after 16 years, I find my work here rewarding and embrace the challenges that come my way."
Promoting wellness throughout Tobyhanna is a collaborative effort between several organizations including safety, the clinic and employee services center.
The Wellness Committee oversees the annual walking event and the Biggest Winner competition, a weight loss program. The organizers of the annual health prevention fair hope to open lines of communication by inviting several local vendors to visit the depot. Every so often representatives from organizations such as the Northeastern Regional Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and the Komen Foundation drop by to speak to the work force. And, not long ago, college students studying nutrition spent a few weeks here providing one-on-one and group counseling.
According to information posted on the OSHA website, employers who invest in workplace safety and health can expect to reduce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The site also cites subsequent cost savings in a variety of areas, such as lowering workers' compensation costs and medical expenses, avoiding penalties, and reducing costs to train replacement employees and conduct accident investigations. OSHA officials note employers often discovered changes made to improve workplace safety and health resulted in significant improvements to their organization's productivity and financial performance.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.
Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.
About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.