• Continuing Education

  • American Occupational Health Conference - 2009 Recap

    Nearly 900 occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) professionals attended the 2009 American Occupational Health Conference (AOHC®), held April 26-29, in San Diego. Participants from across the globe – Canada, Nigeria, Oman, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, England, China, Romania, Belgium, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Bermuda, Mexico, and Korea – joined their U.S. colleagues.
    (Click here for the AOHC slide show.)

    The entire conference was housed under one roof at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, a beautiful hotel along San Diego’s waterfront. This ideal location allowed attendees to enjoy easy access to all activities! A step out the back door brought fresh sea breezes, harbor views, and more amenities with Seaport Village shops, restaurants and boardwalk within easy reach – all while enjoying the 70° weather for which San Diego is well known!

    “Congratulations on a wonderful and organized conference held at a
    location where we did not have to walk miles to get to the next class!”

    ACOEM’s 94th annual meeting, AOHC 2009 consisted of 8 pre-conference courses (April 24-25), the Opening Session/Sappington Lecture, the Annual Membership Meeting, meetings of both the House of Delegates and Board of Directors, and sessions organized into five “tracks” – OEM Clinical Practice; Management and Administration in OEM; OEM Education and Scientific Research; Environmental Health and Risk Management; Regulatory, Legal, Military, and Governmental OEM Practice. The meeting was rounded out with meal discussions, worksite visits, exhibits, poster presentations, and receptions and social events! The official AOHC 2009 “kick off” was the Opening Session on Sunday.

    WHAT A PLAN! Participants gave this year’s conference rave reviews, thanks to the members of the AOHC Planning Committee who did an outstanding job! Members were Chair, Ellyn McIntosh, MD, assisted by Track Chairs Drs. Dean Baker, Kevin Byrne, Harold Haase, Leslie Israel, and Erik Won. Other committee members were Lucinda Brown; Denece Kesler, MD; Patrick Laraby, MD; Walter Newman, Jr., MD; Ruben Oliver, MD; Mark Russi, MD; and Melanie Swift, MD. Drs. Robert Orford, Anthony Burton, Warner Hudson, Pamela Hymel, Christopher Jankosky, and Mark Roberts served on the Advisory Team.

    “Excellent conference – best AOHC in years!”


    AOHC presented attendees with numerous educational opportunities. The 8 pre-conference courses – HPM Clinic, MRO Advanced, MRO I Comprehensive, Basic Curriculum, Board Review, AMA Guides Intensive, Medical Center Occupational Health and Safety, and Practice Guidelines – were very well received. The 14 meal sessions, more than 40 educational sessions, and 2 worksite visits (USNS Mercy Hospital Ship and the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant) provided a variety of choices for everyone.


    “Overall an excellent conference – appreciate continued and expanded lectures on incorporating
    wellness into our settings (corporate, governmental and present practice settings).” 


    And, in an effort to go as “green” as possible, conference handouts were made available to participants on line prior to AOHC through ACOEM’s web site, while a complimentary CD-Rom of the handouts was provided to attendees in their registration packets.

    “I enjoyed having the handouts on the CD. I highly recommend this again in the future!”

    In the midst of AOHC 2009, the H1N1 flu began making itself known here in the U.S. and on the world scene. To the credit of ACOEM, a special emergency informational session was formulated on short notice and held on Monday, April 27. We thank Dr. Warner Hudson for acting as moderator, Drs. Margaret Kitt (former Director of the NIOSH Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response) and John Piacentino (Senior Scientist/Office of the Director, NIOSH), ACOEM Past President Robert McLellan, and Drs. Bill Bunn and Mark Russi for stepping in to analyze, provide, and disseminate the most up-to-date information available. The emergency briefing was recorded and the audio is available on line through the ACOEM web site's Emergency Preparedness area.

    “The extra swine flu update amid the crisis was superb. Thanks to the president and team for putting it together!”

    The William B. Patterson Memorial Ethics Presentation debuted at this year’s conference. The session honors the memory of Dr. Patterson, who died March 31, 2008. At the time of his death, Dr. Patterson was a member of the ACOEM Board of Directors and, as chair of the Committee on Ethical Practice in OEM, was spearheading the process of revising ACOEM’s Code of Ethics. This annual presentation, which will discuss the ACOEM Code in the context of current issues in medical ethics, is endowed by the Patterson Fund. Donations to the Fund can be made payable to the ACOEM/William B. Patterson, MD, Fund and mailed to ACOEM, Patterson Fund, 25 Northwest Point Blvd., Suite 700, Elk Grove, IL 60007. Donations are tax deductible.

    “This was a superb and thought-provoking presentation!”


    In addition to the educational opportunities, AOHC 2009 offered attendees frequent chances to network. A Sunday morning complimentary informal New Member Breakfast afforded new members a chance to learn how to become more active in the College. About 65 attendees were able to network with current members who were designated representatives of particular areas of interest, such as special interest sections, Fellowship, etc. This get-together went over so well that the staff had to “shoo” everyone out at 8:30am for fear that they would miss the conference’s Opening Session!


    A President’s Reception for Fellows, the Past Presidents’ Dinner, the Exhibit Opening Reception, and numerous other committee, council, section meetings, and other get-togethers provided plenty of opportunity to spend quality time with colleagues, and to make new and renew old friendships. At the President’s Reception, Kerry Parker, Executive Director of the Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association (WOEMA), and Drs. Dean Gean and Jennifer Christian received the 2009 President’s Awards.


    The Exhibit Opening Reception on Sunday evening featured 50 exhibitors and nearly 50 poster presentations. The Exhibit Hall was open all day Monday for further perusal by conference attendees. Door prizes were given out and included complimentary registration for AOHC 2010 and complimentary hotel nights at the AOHC 2010 property – Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. The Grand Prize – a Kindle – was presented at Tuesday’s Membership Meeting.

    Social program highlights included Monday evening’s San Diego Zoo tour and dinner which proved to be a “roaring” success. Rumor has it that one of our past presidents led a rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the bus ride back to the hotel! Yachting around San Diego Bay was a beautiful way to spend Tuesday evening. Several small groups of 6 enjoyed this sailing activity, although we heard that with a chill in the air and calm conditions, sweaters and the use of a few motors were in order!

    The AOHC Registration area and ACOEM’s Booth create a hub of activity at every AOHC and this year was no exception. Short lines and speedy registration pleased this year’s attendees as did the ever-popular annual giveaway – tootsie roll pops – a favorite treat of conference-goers. The complimentary hand sanitizer spritzers, also a giveaway, turned out to be a very timely gift in light of the flu convergence. The booth offered a wealth of information that attracted many registrants to stop and gather materials for future reference or to browse through the many medical books, including ACOEM’s own Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines, that were offered this year at special participant “take with” pricing. 

    “Conference staff very pleasant and helpful – thanks!”


    ACOEM President, Robert R. Orford, MD, welcomed AOHC participants to the Sunday morning Opening Session. Dr. Orford then introduced Dr. Roman Kownacki, MD, who as WOEMA’s Chairman of the Board, welcomed attendees to San Diego on behalf of the component society. Agenda highlights included the presentation of ACOEM’s annual awards and the keynote C.O. Sappington Memorial Lecture which serves as a forum from which to address major issues in the field of OEM. 

    Award Presentations


    William S. Knudsen Award – John Howard, MD. The highest award in OEM, the Knudsen Award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field. Dr. Howard was cited for his leadership as Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from 2002 to July 2008. During his tenure, he established the Research to Practice Program and provided access to NIOSH research through electronic communications. 


    Meritorious Service Award – Reynolds B. Brissenden III, MD. This award recognizes an ACOEM member who has provided laudable service to the College. It was presented to Dr. Brissenden for his many years of service, particularly as chair of the Board of Examiners for Fellowship. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors and of the House of Delegates, as well as the Ergonomics Committee, the Committee on Councils, and the Council on International OEM. He celebrates 40 years of College membership in 2010! 

    Health Achievement in Occupational Medicine Award – Allen J. Parmet, MD. This award is presented to recognize an ACOEM member for a specific or unique achievement in OEM. Dr. Parmet, in private practice in occupational medicine in Kansas City, Mo., was bestowed this award for identifying a new serious occupational disease – variously termed popcorn packers lung, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, diacetyl-induced bronchiolitis obliterans, or flavoring-induced bronchiolitis obliterans. 

    Robert A. Kehoe Award of Merit – This award is presented annually to those individuals who have shown distinction in and made significant contributions to OEM. Drs. Elizabeth Genovese and Philip Harber were selected to receive this year’s Kehoe Award. 

    Elizabeth Genovese, MD, Medical Director of IMX Medical Management Services, Bala Cynwyd, Pa., was cited for her commitment to the principles of evidence-based medicine as exemplified through her work on the ACOEM Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines, specifically as a lead author of the revised Chronic Pain chapter and member of the Spine Panel. Philip Harber, MD, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UCLA, was cited for his significant academic contributions in the area of artificial intelligence/intelligent databases, occupational respiratory epidemiology, health services models, and occupational ergonomics. 

    Adolph G. Kammer Merit in Authorship Award – This award recognizes an outstanding article published in JOEM. This year’s recipients were from Finland and the U.K. and unable to attend AOHC. Sakari Suominen, MD, Jussi Vahtera, MD, Katariina Korkeila, MD, Hans Helenius, MSc, Mika Kivimäki, PhD, and Markku Koskenvuo, MD, were cited for their article Job Strain, Life Events, and Sickness Absence: A Longitudinal Cohort Study in a Random Population Sample which appeared in the September 2007 issue of JOEM, and examined job strain and adverse life events and their co-occurrence as predictors of sickness absence. 

    Corporate Heatlh Achievement Award (CHAA) – Dr. Natalie Hartenbaum accepted the CHAA on behalf of this year’s recipient, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) of Philadelphia. SEPTA was cited for demonstrated excellence in all aspects of health, wellness, and safety, and in particular for their return-to-work and substance abuse programs. ACOEM and GlaxoSmithKline co-sponsor CHAA. 
    Exemplary Practice Citation (EPC) – EPC is a new counterpart to the CHAA that recognizes smaller employers with exemplary practices that can be implemented by others. It was bestowed upon Federal Occupational Health Services of Denver for their external defibrillator program developed under the leadership of Dr. John Perkner, who accepted the award for them.
    Resident Research Presentation Awards – These awards are presented annually by ACOEM’s Resident and Recent Graduates Section and Academic Section to encourage residents and recent program graduates to share their research, clinical techniques, or theory development in OEM. Eight residents were honored for their research which was presented at Session 2202. 

    C. O. Sappington Memorial Lecture 

    This year’s Sappington Lecture – How the Age Wave Will Transform Health and Healthcare – was delivered by Ken Dychtwald, PhD, founding President/CEO of Age Wave, a firm that guides Fortune 500 companies and government groups in product and service development for mature adults. Dr. Dychtwald is a psychologist, gerontologist, documentary filmmaker, and author of 15 books on aging-related issues. His rousing presentation thoroughly engaged the audience. 

    “Very thought-provoking presentation and a very entertaining speaker!” 


    Colleagues gathered Tuesday, April 28, for ACOEM’s Annual Membership Meeting. The luncheon meeting was open to all members at no charge. The afternoon’s agenda included the Fellowship Ceremony, a presentation by the President of the Society of Occupational Medicine, a Bylaws Vote, presentation of the ACOEM Outstanding Achievement Awards, installation of ACOEM’s new Board of Directors, and recognition of the new House of Delegates’ officers. 

    Elevation of 2009 Class of Fellows – Twenty-five members were elevated to Fellowship, the highest class of membership within ACOEM. The majority of new Fellows were able to attend and be recognized in person for their achievement. 

    SOM President Addressed ACOEM Members – A few years ago, the presidents of ACOEM and the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), our British counterpart, began a tradition of attending each other’s annual conference. At this year’s AOHC, Dr. Tony Stevens, SOM President, continued this meaningful exchange by addressing the Membership Meeting attendees. Pam Hymel, MD, ACOEM President, will reciprocate and travel to Cardiff, Wales, to attend SOM’s Annual Scientific Meeting.
    ACOEM Bylaws Vote Taken – A vote to amend the ACOEM Bylaws was conducted. Specifically, the recommended changes addressed committee structure. The amendments were approved without dissent.
    Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients Recognized – This annual award recognizes the work of committees, councils, sections, and other groups of volunteers within ACOEM. This year, a special committee and a panel were both chosen as recipients.
    The Evidence-based Practice Chronic Pain Panel, chaired by Drs. Elizabeth Genovese, Kathryn Mueller, and Wilhelmina Korevaar, was recognized for its work in updating the Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines’ Chronic Pain chapter, which was extensively revised to include more than 200 recommendations focusing on diagnostic and other testing and treatments.
    The Special Committee on Health, Productivity and Disability Management, chaired by Drs. Ronald Loeppke and Jennifer Christian, was chosen for its development of the guidance statement Healthy Workforce/Healthy Economy: The Role of Health, Productivity, and Disability Management in Addressing the Nation’s Health Care Crisis which will serve the College well in the upcoming debate on health care reform. 
    Passing of the Gavel – New Officers and Directors Installed – New House Officers Recognized – Outgoing President, Robert R. Orford, MD, passed the symbolic gavel of office to Pamela A. Hymel, MD, ACOEM’s new President, who was among 8 physicians to take office during AOHC. Dr. Hymel is Global Medical Director of Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif. Dr. Hymel also presented Dr. Orford with a special plaque commemorating his service to ACOEM and its Board of Directors.
    Other officers installed for 1-year terms were President-Elect, Natalie P. Hartenbaum, MD, and Vice President, T. Warner Hudson III, MD. Dr. Hartenbaum is Chief Medical Officer for OccuMedix, Inc., Dresher, Pa. Dr. Hudson is Lead Physician at LifeConnections Health Center in San Jose, Calif. 
    Members installed as Directors for 3-year terms (2009-2012) were Marianne Cloeren, MD; Michael L. Fischman, MD; Michael G. Holland, MD; and James A. Tacci, MD. Brian C. Svazas, MD, was installed for a one year term to fulfill the remainder of Dr. Hudson’s term as Director. New officers of the ACOEM House of Delegates for 2009-2010 were also recognized. Their installation took place on April 24.


    The 86th Session of the House of Delegates Meeting was held Friday, April 24, where William Buchta, MD, formally took office as Speaker of the House. Drs. Alan Engelberg, and Daniel Janiga also were installed as Speaker-Elect and Recorder, respectively. Seven resolutions were approved and have been sent to the ACOEM Board of Directors for discussion at the summer Board meeting. Incoming ACOEM President, Pam Hymel, MD, along with Ron Loeppke, MD, spoke on “The Role of OM in the New(est) Era of Health Care Reform.” Guests from the Society of Occupational Medicine, Hillary Todd and Dr. Malcolm Braithwaite, joined in on House activities for the day. A special HOD award was presented to Reynolds Brissenden, MD, for his many years of service as an HOD delegate. The culmination of the day was the annual “Rag Tag” Dinner held at the nearby Trattoria La Strada – a good time was had by all!

    ACOEM’s Board of Directors met twice during AOHC – first on Saturday, April 25, and again with its new leadership team at the helm on Tuesday afternoon, April 28. As always, lots to cover – much discussion, many decisions, and a multitude of ideas exchanged!

    “Thank you – it was an excellent, enjoyable conference!” 


    If you enjoyed this year’s AOHC or if you were unable to attend, mark your calendars for AOHC 2010 in Orlando! Planning is already underway – ACOEM is currently accepting session proposals and individual scientific abstracts. Dr. Bob Bourgeois is the Program Chair.
    AOHC 2010 will be held May 2-5 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. This resort is on 230 acres along Shingle Creek and only 10 minutes from the airport. Also a short distance away is a variety of Orlando's best attractions, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues (Disney World anyone?).