Category Archives: News

Travel Immunizations—An Essential Piece of Trip Planning

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Traveling internationally is an exciting adventure—but before you go, make sure you’re completely prepared, which means researching your destination and acquiring any recommended vaccines. Depending on the location you’re traveling to, you may be exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases that have become rare in the United States. In some locations, you may be required to obtain a specific vaccination before entry.

It’s essential to make sure you get all vaccines needed for the countries you’re visiting, and be aware of any health issues that may be prevalent in those locations. After all, acquiring a disease while traveling won’t just ruin your trip, it could have serious long-term health consequences. Luckily, there are many resources available for international travelers if you’d like to prepare for optimal health conditions on your trip.

First, you can search by destination to identify any health risks as well as recommended corresponding vaccines on the CDC website. The CDC also offers an app, TravWell, with destination-specific vaccine recommendations, a checklist for travel preparation, and a customizable packing list.

Second, make sure you’re up to date on the recommended vaccines, ideally 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. Washington Occupational Health Associates (WOHA) offers vaccinations as well as pre-travel consultations in our DC metro clinic.

 In addition to obtaining the recommended travel vaccinations, there are a few things you should do to make sure your health is a priority.

1. Check frequently for travel health notices

 The CDC maintains a comprehensive list of updated notices for international destinations—make sure to check yours before you travel.

2. Get reputable travelers’ health insurance

Check your insurance plan at home to see what benefits extend to traveling internationally, and if needed, obtain an additional policy. Ideally, travel health insurance should cover both medical and flight expenses.

3. Be careful with what you eat and drink

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to be extremely careful about what you ingest. Only drink bottled water (not opened and refilled, make sure the seal is intact) in sealed containers if you’re traveling to an undeveloped country, and ask for any other drinks with no ice. Food should be steaming hot and well cooked, and try to avoid fruit that’s already been peeled as well as raw, leafy vegetables and salads.

4. Protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases

Bring or purchase an insect repellent containing DEET and use it frequently. If you’re visiting a country with a high risk of malaria, your doctor may prescribe a medication before your visit.

5. If you become sick, know where to go

 Do some research before you leave on what your plan will be if you become ill. Look for reputable physicians offices and clinics in the area you’ll be traveling to, and make sure you keep the information with you. While abroad, if you need to purchase medication, locate a legitimate pharmacy and look for major brands that you’re familiar with. Check the seals for any damage or tampering.

Are you an employer with employees traveling abroad? It’s just as important to ensure your team is protected—keeping them safe and healthy while on the job is one of your top priorities. Ensuring that travel immunizations are available and easily accessible to your employees is an essential part of your benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Regardless of your destination, it’s important to arrive prepared. In our DC metro area clinic, WOHA provides vaccinations and International Certificate of Vaccinations, as well as up-to-date recommendations, pre-travel medications, and health guidelines according to your travel plans. For more information or to schedule an appointment, fill out our form or give us a call.

How Your Company Can Keep Up with DOT Physical Exams, And Why You Should!

Doctor using digital tablet, modern technology in medicine and healthcare concept

We have entered a time where there are faster electronic checks and quicker enforcement of Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for DOT physical exams. And while drivers are ultimately responsible for keeping up with DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements for their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), for their own good carriers and transportation service owners should play a big role in its facilitation. Not only can the newly increased fines for both the driver and company be substantial, but a driver in today’s electronically interconnected world without an up-to-date DOT physical is basically…instantly…a driver without a CDL.
That means if he or she should enter a weigh station or be stopped for any reason a DOT officer can issue an Out-of-Service violation preventing your vehicle from moving any further. That leaves your vehicle, freight or passengers sitting along side the road with unhappy customers and an ensuing PR nightmare. It’s not wise for freight carriers and bus companies to take a gamble and hope the driver is fulfilling the obligations. It’s important to be pro-active in ensuring drivers meet the physical exam regulations.

In Case You Wondered What Went On in a DOT Physical…

A DOT physical exam is not arduous or overly time-consuming. It does, however, need to be carried out by a FMCSA-certified medical examiner. These examiners are trained, educated and certified in DOT requirements, what to look for during an exam and how to report exam results.
The actual DOT physical is fairly quick.

1. There is a health history checklist, not unlike what everyone fills out when going to a doctor’s office.

2. Hearing and vision tests are required. There is also a urinalysis test to look for proteins, blood or sugars in the urine that could indicate a yet-to-be discovered underlying health problem, or conditions that may not be well managed.

3. Finally, there are the medical examiner’s general impressions of a driver’s fitness. These include the general appearance of the skin, eyes, back/spine, gait, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, and many more.
Upon a complete review of the driver and tests, the Medical Examiner has three options on the form they are required to fill out. They can select a checkbox that:

• States the driver does not meet FMCSA standards, and why.
• Approves the driver’s physical and certifies that they meet FMCSA standards for the maximum period of 24 months.
• Requires the driver to have periodic monitoring of a possible problem or condition. Therefore, the examiner will qualify the driver for work for only 3, 6 or 12 months while monitoring continues. In these cases, the driver will oftentimes have to also follow-up with their personal physician.
• Determine that the driver does not meet FMCSA standards to receive their medical examiner’s certificate.

Of course, in the ideal world all drivers would immediately pass a physical with flying colors and be re-certified for two years. But just so you know, periodic monitoring, and therefore limited-length certifications, is becoming very common. Routine physical problems that are under control, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, have often become a trigger for shorter certification periods.

How to Maintain DOT Physical Exam Requirements

To find FMCSA-certified medical examiners, and for the easiest and least expensive compliance option, it’s best to connect with a service whose specialty is DOT physicals, such as Washington Occupational Health Associates (WOHA). A good service will provide enhanced conveniences tailored to an understanding of the transportation, trucking and passenger bus industries. WOHA, for example, offers:

• Scheduling of DOT physicals
• A Designated Project Manager
• Secure Web Portal Reporting
• A Large Provider Network.

And because DOT physicals are their specialty with systems and structures in place to get the job done efficiently, a service such as WOHA will typically be less costly than a doctors’ group that offers DOT physicals.
While drivers must ultimately maintain their DOT physical, the company they drive for has a lot at stake if they don’t. Don’t wait for an upcoming Out-of-Service violation, fine or both. Get your drivers on a schedule and give yourself some peace of mind. Contact WOHA today for a consultation regarding their DOT physical exam services.

Healthy Workforce: Executive Physicals

Executives at meeting

Most employers recognize that healthy employees lead to a healthier bottom line. They are more productive, use fewer sick days, and are more satisfied in their work. Your executive team is no exception. Unfortunately, the lifestyle of an executive is not always conducive to healthy living. High expectations, long work days, extensive travel, and high levels of stress can make it difficult to prioritize health over the demands of the job. That’s why it’s crucial to encourage your executive team to take care of themselves. When your leaders focus on making health a priority, they’ll ensure they’re prepared to do their jobs, and they’ll be setting a healthy example for the entire organization.

Tips for staying healthy at work

Making health and wellness a priority in a fast-paced workplace can be tough, but these five simple steps can make it easier.

1. Get enough sleep

 Most experts suggest a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep per night. If that sounds like a lot, consider that even moderate sleep deprivation can lead to impairment similar to that of blood alcohol level of .1%. If you have difficulty sleeping, try to create a healthy sleep routine. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day, leave your laptop and smartphone in another room, and limit screen time for an hour or two before going to bed. These habits promote restful sleep, so you’re more likely to wake feeling rested and ready for the day.

2. Manage Your Stress

 Executive positions are inherently stressful, so learning to manage that stress is critical. Take breaks throughout the day to give yourself time to decompress. Find activities that help you relieve tension: try yoga or meditation, go for a daily run, read a book. The key is to find what works for you and make time for it regularly.

3. Eat well

 Eating well and incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet will help you feel energized, alert, and focused throughout the day. In addition, smart food choices will help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Bringing your lunch and keeping healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit, in your office can help keep you on track when your calendar is packed and you’re tempted to grab a doughnut from the break room.

4.  Exercise

 Regular exercise can help you relieve stress, manage your weight, and get your creative juices flowing. And if you don’t think you have time, remember that small bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as effective as hour-long sessions on the treadmill. Take the stairs to your office instead of the elevator. Park farther away from your building so you have a longer walk. Go for a midday walk to get moving and refresh yourself for the rest of your day.

5. Stay hydrated

 Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, and difficulty concentrating, so even on your most hectic days, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated. Minimize your intake of caffeinated drinks, like coffee and soda, and focus on drinking water throughout the day. Setting a reminder on your phone and carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day can help you get the water you need.  

WOHA’s Executive Physicals

 A healthy workforce starts at the top, but it’s not always easy for busy executives to make their health a priority. That’s why so many organizations are now offering executive physicals to their top talent. These convenient, preventive visits enable busy executives to undergo a comprehensive health exam, diagnostic screenings, and laboratory testing all in one place on the day of the exam.

 At Washington Health Associates (WOHA), our executive physicals are designed to help busy executives and managers like you get the healthcare they need. We offer thorough personal consultations, which include medical history evaluations and physical exams, and follow up with a comprehensive report following your visit. Our services are affordable, efficient, and confidential. Contact us to schedule your executive physical with WOHA today.

The Value of a Healthy Workforce

Occupational health, otherwise known as workplace health, has become increasingly significant in recent years as more and more employers are realizing the importance of a healthy workforce. Learn about the benefits of promoting a healthy workforce, ways to create a healthy workforce within your organization, and how Washington Occupational Health Associates can help keep your employees happy and healthy. Continue reading