Health e-News
Brought to you by Affinity Occupational Health
Good health: Good for business
June/July 2008 
In This Issue
Allergies on the Job
Stress-Free Summer Break
Corporate Stretching Program
Tetanus: Are Your Employees Protected?
Bon Voyage: Corporate Travel
WebMD - Are You on Board?
Ask the Expert: Heat Illness
Healthy Company Picnics
Meet Our Staff
Allergies on the Job
Brian HarrisonThought those sniffles would take a summer vacation?  Not so fast.  Although cold and flu season is behind us, warmer weather brings another foe to the workplace - allergies.   Those annoying symptoms (runny nose, itchy eyes, inability to focus) can take a toll on productivity.  And what's worse, allergies can stick around longer than a cold.

"Allergies contribute to presenteeism, which is the measure of lost productivity when employees are on the job but impaired," says Brian Harrison, MD, director of Health and Productivity Management for Affinity Occupational Health.  Recent research at a heavy manufacturing plant found that allergies came at a price.  During their bad seasons, more employees called in sick and had difficulty concentrating.  Seasonal allergies led to more work injuries, Workers Compensation claims and group health claims. 

"In some cases, the medicines people use to treat their allergies can make them drowsy, an added safety risk," says Dr. Harrison. 

The solution:  Read the box!  When allergy sufferers use non-sedating medicines, their productivity goes back to normal.  Encourage employees to check the warning label on over-the-counter allergy medicines.  If it says "may cause drowsiness," it's the wrong choice for the job.

Some tips for allergy sufferers:
  • Talk with your doctor.  Make sure he knows what you do at work and that it's crucial to treat allergies without the drowsy side-effects.
  • Many effective allergy medications do not cause drowsiness; look for an ingredient called loratadine.
  • As much as possible, try avoiding allergens.  Use an air conditioner and a HEPA filter in your furnace to shut out pollens during ragweed season in late summer and fall.
Stress-Free Summer Break 
Brian HarrisonSummer should be a time of relaxation, right?  So why do your employees seem more stressed out?  "Having the kids home for the summer can disrupt the family routine," says Laurie Raupp, registered nurse and counselor with the Affinity Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

Whether your kids are small or college-age, extra planning and costs are involved when they're out of school and under Mom and Dad's roof for the summer.  "Many parents stress about childcare costs or the added guilt of being at work when the kids are out of school.  Add to that the extra bickering that often happens when siblings are spending more time together, or the sadness of seeing a child off to college, and you've got some very anxious employees on your hands," Raupp says. 

What's a parent to do?  Raupp offers some advice for parents in two potentially stressful situations.  Pass these along to your employees and encourage them to talk with an EAP counselor if needed.  Read more
Corporate Stretching Program
StretchingSupervisors beware - muscle strain lurks in every corner of the workplace!  Whether your staff is performing jobs with high physical demands or restricted to sitting most of the day, Affinity's Corporate Stretching program can help.  Through this fully customized service, a physical therapist or an athletic trainer designs a stretching regimen based on the work your employees do - on the machine, in the field or at a desk.
Goals of the program are to educate employees on proper body mechanics, reduce strain associated with prolonged postures on the job, improve flexibility and decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injury.  "Many jobs require workers to repeat a specific movement throughout the day or to remain in one position for long periods of time.  This puts stress on the body that can be alleviated with proper stretching," says Mark Schmitz, physical therapist for Affinity Health System.
In addition to a customized stretching plan, the program provides all employees with helpful tips to use at work or play.  These include how and when to stretch, and what signs to watch for that might indicate an injury.  Supervisors are supplied with "coaching cards" and posters to display in their departments.  Supervisor training sessions and educational presentations for employees are also offered.
Tetanus: Are Your Employees Protected?

Brian HarrisonDid you know?  Tetanus germs are everywhere - in soil and even dust.  Tetanus can cause a serious infection when it enters the body through a puncture wound, such as by stepping on a nail.  In the United States, tetanus causes five deaths each year.  But tetanus infections can be prevented through a simple vaccine!


Are your employees protected?  In this bare-feet season, it's time to consider adding tetanus shots to your wellness offerings.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people receive at least three doses of tetanus (Td) vaccine during their lifetime.  Today, these initial doses are part of the recommended infant vaccination schedule.  After the third dose, a tetanus shot is needed every 10 years.


Tetanus vaccines are readily available to your employees.  Affinity Occupational Health offers tetanus shots as part of your company's wellness program or pre-placement physicals.  For more information, call Todd Repp at (920) 727-8715.

Bon Voyage

AirplanePacking bags for a business trip?  Don't forget your check-up.  "We want business travelers to be closing a deal in the board room, not running for the bathroom.  Taking steps to ensure good health before a trip enables travelers to focus on the job at hand," says Carol Delwiche, a nurse practitioner specializing in traveler health. 


Affinity Occupational Health's Travel Medicine program is designed to check important health-related to-do's off the list before an international journey.  Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government resources, our travel medicine team stays on top of health and safety alerts around the globe.  We arm your employees with the necessary vaccinations and preventive measures specific to each destination. 


According to Ms. Delwiche, the key is to plan ahead.  "Travelers need to give their bodies time to develop immunity.  Some vaccinations need to be given weeks or even months ahead of time to provide the best immunity," she says.  Affinity's Travel Medicine experts can review each traveler's medical history, medications and allergies prior to the trip.  In addition, we provide helpful information on:

  • understanding and treating travelers' diarrhea
  • food and water precautions
  • destination-specific vaccinations
  • preventing blood clots
  • insect precautions
  • special risks.

Beyond the business trip, the Travel Medicine program can help recreational travelers, too.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, call (920) 223-7075.

WebMD - Are You On Board?
Brian HarrisonAffinity Occupational Health launched an exciting new partnership with WebMD on June 1.  Have you taken advantage of it yet?  Join the other leading-edge companies in our area now benefiting from a wealth of user-friendly, customized health management tools.  Your employees will have access to:

  • Comprehensive online HRAs, tailored to each person's needs
  • Interactive programs on the key areas of nutrition, exercise, weight management, smoking and stress
  • Personalized resources to help manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, back pain and arthritis.
For details, read more or contact Affinity Occupational Health at 1-800-541-0351 today!

Ask the Expert
Dr. Charles Capasso
Dr. Charles Capasso, Affinity Occupational Health

Q:  I want to prevent the summer heat factor from affecting my employees.  What are the risks brought on by hotter temperatures?  How can I prevent heat illness on the job? 

A:  The body maintains a consistent internal temperature by sweating and increasing blood flow to the skin.  When high temps, hot sun and humidity enter the mix, the body's ability to regulate itself can become compromised.  This is especially true when a job demands intense physical activity, either outdoors or in a building without air conditioning.

There are three important types of heat illness to remember: fainting; heat exhaustion (weakness, headache, nausea); and heat stroke, a medical emergency in which a person can become delirious, unconscious or suffer seizures.  If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
Prevent heat illness by taking these steps:
Read more.
Have a question for our experts?  Click here.
Try This!
Workplace Wellness Tip
Picnic Time
It's that time of year again.  Companies throughout Northeast Wisconsin are gearing up for the annual employee picnic.  Here are some tips for adding a dash of wellness to your big event.
Think lean.  Tired of the hamburger/hot dog scene?  Try a make-your-own subs or pita bar with lean meats and veggie toppings.  Or fill up their bellies with corn-on-the-cob, a picnic favorite.  If your guests are still the burger type, choose grilled turkey burgers or chicken breasts.
Get fresh.  Wherever possible, opt for fresh rather than processed foods.  Trade the chips for fresh veggie sticks.  For dessert, try a colorful array of fresh fruit with fruit sorbet for the sweet tooth.
Stay safe.  Outdoor meals in hot temperatures are breeding grounds for food-borne illness.  Whether you're serving the food yourself or hiring a caterer, follow simple safety rules: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold; separate meats from produce; discard perishable dishes every hour and replenish with a fresh, temperature-controlled supply.
Make it a 5K.  Get your employees moving by making exercise the main attraction.  Highlighting a 5K run/walk or an obstacle course with prizes can motivate picnic-goers to get active.
Bust a move.  Hire a popular local band and encourage everybody to hit the dance floor.  Moderate dancing burns 400 calories an hour.
Jump around.  Inflatable activity centers are all the rage with kids, and who's to say Mom and Dad can't join them?  Fitness can be found in a giant air-pumped moonwalk.
Be prepared.  Keep a supply of remedies on hand for treating bee stings, sunburn and minor cuts and scrapes. 
Meet Our Staff
Mark Schmitz
Mark Schmitz, a physical therapist for Affinity Occupational Health, provides on-site physical therapy services to area companies.  Mark's expertise includes injury prevention, ergonomics consulting, first-aid and physical therapy treatment.  Mark also provides therapy to patients at the Affinity Occupational Health clinic in Menasha.
Mark carries 19 years of experience as a physical therapist in a variety of fields.  Prior to joining the Occupational Health team, he served patients in orthopaedics and sports medicine as well as inpatient rehab.
A 1988 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison, Mark is still Bucky's #1 fan.  As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoys camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing and sports.  Mark and his wife Marjorie are the brave parents of two teenagers, 17 and 14.
For more information on on-site physical therapy services, call Affinity Occupational Health at 1-800-541-0351.
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Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team
Lisa Kogan-Praska, sales and marketing manager for Affinity Occupational Health, focuses on developing programs and services to fit each client's unique needs.  Lisa has more than 12 years of professional experience in the health care industry, including eight years specializing in occupational health and wellness. 

Holly Tomlin, sales and marketing representative for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 12 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. 

To contact Lisa or Holly, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail or