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Greater Regional adds PCP machine to arsenal

Published: Monday, July 10, 2017 11:37 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 10:50 a.m. CDT
Professional profile: Mike Taylor, Creston city administrator, tests out the physical capacity profile machine assisted by Occupational Therapist Andrea Skellenger in June at Greater Regional Medical Center. The hospital added the machine to its arsenal of services, and the machine is capable of testing a person's strength and effort during various exercises.

Greater Regional Medical Center has expanded its arsenal of services after the purchase of a physical capacity profile (PCP) machine.

Hospital staff purchased the machine, which arrived June 6. The machine is capable of helping employers reduce workers’ compensation claims and provide information about what kinds of jobs someone is physically capable of doing.

“It is a sequence of tests to measure strength,” said Nancy Anthony, Greater Regional business health and wellness director. “It has a comprehensive medical review also, and then we put the client through the tests to measure strength. The test takes approximately 35 minutes to complete.”

The machine is similar to various weight-lifting machines meshed together, but without moving parts. For example, to measure a client’s ability to lift their legs from a sitting position, the client would sit on the machine, place the legs behind the leg-lift pad and attempt to lift the pad. The pad will not move, but the machine will gauge how much effort the client put into attempting to move it for three tries.

The various tests help show how capable a client is of doing a specific job.

The client is then sorted into one of five levels based on degree of strength. Sedentary work, a level 1 strength, is described as exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and/or negligible amount of force frequently. It is also described as involving sitting most of the day, but may involve walking or standing.

A level 5 client, or one capable of doing very heavy work, is described as exerting in excess of 100 pounds occasionally, and/or in excess of 50 pounds of force frequently and/or in excess of 20 pounds of force constantly.

“We want to make sure that our companies are putting the right people in the job requirements they have. This machine objectively decides that,” Anthony said. “It also helps our providers when working with work comp claims on what the client’s data is. It is important information for physicians, employers and insurance companies.”

According to the PCP pamphlet, “physicians appreciate having preinjury measurements to assist in assuring employees are returning to their previous strength levels.” The data shows a physician where a client is at, which is objective information a physician may not have otherwise.

For example, if a client is recovering from a lower-back injury after a work-related incident, the machine will help a physician tell if the client’s lower-back strength is at the same level as it was prior to the incident, which then the client could return to work. 

The PCP pamphlet also reads “employers’ legal teams many times are left trying to defend claims from employees claiming to have been 100 percent healthy prior to an injury.” By having a client tested prior to working at a company, then after returning to work from an injury, there is more solid data showing how the client’s health changed over time.

“The test runs $125, but if employers want to package services we can give a discount,” Anthony said. “The cost savings of reducing work comp claims when putting the right person in the job is a great savings for employers.”

Common worker’s compensation injuries include care of eye injuries, bone fractures, cuts and sprains or strains to joints.

Greater Regional staff went through training for approximately one month to get certification to run the test, and it is now available for use.

“We want employers who have those job positions that maybe require more of a physical strength to be able to put the right person in that position,” Anthony said. “If employers have certain positions that maybe they are seeing more work comp issues with, then we can focus on that particular job.”

Other services provided through Greater Regional’s business health and wellness department include Department of Transportation physicals and recertifications, drug screens, on-site laboratory, basic hearing and vision testing and immunizations.

“I think it will help employers make better decisions on who can really do the job without injuries that are a cost to their bottom line,” Anthony said.

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