Monday, October 20, 2014

No Chief's Disease Here

The California Highway Patrol, criticized in the past for exploitative "Chief's Disease," has a program in place that demonstrates that workers' compensation can accomplish amazing things when all of the right motivations are in all of the right places and everyone does their job.

Last week, CBS Sacramento ran a story about CHP officer Mike Mitchell and the CHP's program.

Mitchell lost his leg in 2011 in an automobile crash when he was responding to a call in Amador County. His car hit a tree so violently that he doesn't remember the crash at all, and his injuries were so severe his right leg had to be amputated.

His employer offered him a chance to return to the force, but he had to prove himself physically (and mentally) capable by going through the academy again, this time with a computerized prosthetic that is the stuff of imagination 40 years ago (think "Six Million Dollar Man" with actor Lee Majors as the star).

The prosthetic didn't cost millions - the article says it cost about $100,000.

“I have kids at home and I can’t let them see me quit,” he tells his interviewer.

“Officer-safety wise I still have to able to be able to fight, I still have to be able to shoot and drive. Do everything I’m suppose to do,” he goes on.

After going through retraining and passing the physical assessment tests he regained his uniform and is back on the job patrolling in a CHP cruiser.

“I love doing it,” he said, reflecting the attitude that is necessary for an injured worker to overcome huge obstacles. “I love being out in the public.”

According to the story, there are four other full time officers who are amputees.

I'm sure there are also many failure stories where benefits were not provided timely, or there is a dispute about treatment or indemnity, or where an officer attempts to take advantage of the generous disability compensation system in place for California peace officers.

Those negative situations get a lot of attention. It's easy to focus on the bad, to criticize, and blame.

It's much harder to be successful, to overcome huge obstacles, to achieve cooperation between the many people that need to contribute for a successful outcome - that requires communication, vision, and a huge helping of positive attitude.

The CHP says on its website that, "When injuries occur, our obligation is to ensure all appropriate benefits are accessed and received by those injured employees."

I have to believe that statement when I see a story such as Mitchell's.

We at WorkCompCentral believe that success should be celebrated. So much of workers' compensation is draped in negativity - after all, going through a life altering event such as a work injury is steeped in uncertainty, stress and disappointment.

Comp Laude award recipients 2013.
But there are success stories, many of them. We don't hear about those, and some people have been critical of the Comp Laude Awards for injured workers stating that we are making a mockery of the system.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the fact is that we have had many, many injured workers nominated, and many other injured workers praising our efforts to recognize people who have overcome the odds. 

And this happens with the help of the teams of people, the employers, claims adjusters, doctors, attorneys, doing their jobs the best they can.

Stay in this industry long enough and cynicism can dominate your thoughts.

Workers' compensation does good things. We just don't hear about them very often.

When you go to work this morning, do good things - make a case work properly, get an injured worker back on the job, celebrate positive outcomes!

And join us Saturday, December 6, to recognize people and companies that make a difference.


  1. I agree that there are successes's. That does not make up for the failures. I learned long ago working the floor in a hospital as a CNA, that you can be the very best at what you do, but the one time you mess up? That is the one thing folks will remember. Comp I think is the same way. I know first had that comp does help folks, I personally helped to take care of a man that had been a QUADPlegic for 30 years from and OJI where scalfolding fell on him... The system did take care of him for 30 some years. Al though even for him, and after 30 years, he was still having to fight for coverage on certain things. But at that point I think he enjoyed the fight. It kind of kept him going... Any way, many are helped, yes, and that's how it's supposed to be, but many are being harmed as well, and it is happening on a BAD FLIP of a Bias Dr.s coin a lot of the times these, sorry to say. If you end up on the GOOD FLip your fine, but those who end of on the other side of that coin. can expect to go through hell, and back, before they ever get justice, if then.... Peace and Congrates to the folks who do get treated good, the thing is, we all should be being treated good. Thanks and do keep on telling both sides. I loved seeing Sedgwick the other day. How do we educate each other if none of us talk with each other? Peace and thanks.

  2. I just worry when we start giving awards for doing what you are supposed to do.

    1. @Sue - but it's not just "doing what you are supposed to do" - it is doing an EXEMPLARY job over and above what you are supposed to do! We all know there is good service, and then there is OUTSTANDING service - people should be recognized for being outstanding.

    2. this article is a joke. I worked at state fund and know how much they LOOTED from state fund alone. via partly or completely FAKED 100% claims civil service - the CHP and Prison Guards just to name two groups - helped steal 10-15,000 claims that robbed money from the general fund that "took away from others"

      all those faked claims PLUS the multiple, multi-billion dollar plus scandals that looted tens to hundreds of billions more from the industry. state fund by law should have RESERVED money for future medical but they were too busy robbing Peter to Pay Paul (the metaphorical CHP)

      note too, this has gone on for over 100 years since the law that enabled comp was passed and implemented in an ILLEGAL MANNER. the people were NOT allowed to vote on it and that makes this law and all it touches an unconstitutional abomination.

      no vote, no law. its in the constitution, read it.

    3. This officer had to have his leg amputated. I cannot imagine that. He definitely could not fake that injury.

      Anyone who has background in management, should know the importance of giving awards, or recognizing a person like this fine officer, who was able to move beyond his leg amputation and return to his job.

      I get that some injured workers are upset at their treatment, and rightly so. I also think we should praise and be happy for those who successfully return to work.

      Pulling people up is so much better than pushing them down.

  3. Great job on the story about the police officer who was able to return to full duty after an amputation. I shared this on an injured worker forum to inspire other injured workers.

    Giving awards is always a good thing. I have been in management for most of my career and know it motivates. We gave awards out monthly to our sales force. It is good to show that good behavior sometimes gets rewarded. Plus, it is fun to give out awards!

    Bravo to you Mr DePoalo for thinking out of the box with your award system. I give you an A+. :)