Health e-News
November 2013
Important Update for All Transportation-Related Clients
Help Employees Quit Smoking
Are Your Employees Too Sweet for Their Own Good?
How Does Your Sugar Intake Stack Up?
Introducing iSYSTOC for Drug Testing Results
Tobacco-Free Workplace Solutions
Get a Handle on Holiday Stress
Clinic Holiday Hours
Breakfast With the Experts
Quick Links

November marks Diabetes Awareness Month as well as the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21. Diabetes and tobacco use are two big culprits in poor employee health and wellness. Affinity Occupational Health offers a wealth of programs and resources to help employers and employees combat both of these health issues, for a better quality of life.


In this edition of Health e-News, read about our Tobacco-Free Workplace Solutions initiative, our "sweet" on-site programs such as Sugar Stacks and Can the Soda, as well as practical tips for encouraging employees to make wise decisions on smoking and sugar consumption both at work and home. We've also included some important updates on DOT physicals and drug testing results, two services we're pleased to offer with expertise and convenience.


And of course the holiday season is drawing near, so you'll find information on holiday clinic hours as well as how to fight holiday stress before it starts.

Please pass along this valuable information to your employees. Their version of this month's newsletter is available at:

To your good health, 

Linda Hale-Graves

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

Important Update for All Transportation-Related Clients

By Brian Harrison, MD, Affinity Occupational Health

We are trained, tested, registered - and ready to serve you!
Every year, you have allowed us the privilege of conducting over 4,000 Department of Transportation (DOT) medical approval evaluations. We know this privilege has felt more like ours than yours, because these exams cost time and money, to you and your drivers!
We realize that the value you receive from these exams depends on how well we serve you. We believe that efficiently using medical knowledge, good judgment, common sense, and attention to regulatory detail brings you valuable service. We know that the costly burden of ill health among employees, in the form of accident liability, lost productivity, and worker compensation dwarfs even the high cost of complying with these seemingly endless DOT regulations.
Still, nobody likes regulations. When I meet a truck driver for their recertifying exam, sometimes I comment that the two of us represent two of the most highly regulated industries in America, namely transportation and health care! Generally though, we agree that public safety requires regulation of both of our professions; one driver wisely pointed out to me, "It's just another example of what can happen when one bad apple spoils the whole bunch."
I have taken that comment to heart. The "whole bunch" of apples he meant consists of the 7 million commercial drivers licensed in the last ten years. To me, it also brought to mind the "whole bunch" of health care providers who perform the 3-4 million exams these drivers need yearly. Any type of health care provider licensed by their state to do medical exams can certify commercial drivers. That large and diverse a group of providers means a lot of different interpretations of rules and medical guidance. When it comes to apples, their abundant variety adds to their "appeal." When it comes to health professionals endorsing the safety of the driver of a propane tanker on a busy highway, variation may mean less public safety!
This has become all too obvious to the DOT, especially because of high-profile roadway tragedies involving commercial drivers with questionable medical endorsement. This confronted them with two choices, either to pass more and more regulations about specific medical conditions and treatment that could impact driver performance; or, the DOT could instead focus its attention on assuring the competence of these examiners.
It made me happy that, at least this one time anyway, a federal bureau chose to bypass an opportunity to micromanage the health care profession with endless rule making. The DOT admitted that because they aren't doctors, they will instead focus on assuring the training and competence of DOT medical examiners, rather than making laws that try unsuccessfully to address every type of medical situation. For example, more than 100 new prescription drugs come to market every year. With names in the medicine cabinet ranging from Abilify (for depression) to Zytiga (for prostate cancer), we now have more than 11,000 available! That many different drugs, plus an aging workforce of more than 8 million federally registered commercial drivers with medical conditions A-Z, means the lawmaking could go on forever! 
That led the DOT to wisely create the National Registry of Commercial Medical Examiners (NRCME). It will limit examiners to only those trained, tested, and registered. Our eight providers at Affinity Occupational Health have all completed a DOT-approved training course, passed a certifying examination, and registered as examiners.
This new system begins in May 2014--at least, on paper! Whenever it truly launches, all employers of commercial driver medical examiners will need to know that only NRCME providers can issue DOT medical certificates. If a driver had already received a certificate before that date, and their certificate does not expire until after that date, it will remain valid. But, any new certificates issued after May 2014 can only come from NRCME examiners like we at Affinity Occupational Health.
Although it seems to me that the DOT has taken the right approach, the new system may struggle to become fully operational. It appears harder to become registered than the DOT had envisioned. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the relevant DOT module, had stated a goal of having 40,000 examiners vetted by May 2014. As of mid-August 2013 only 1,612 had completed this task (eight of whom work for Affinity Occupational Health!). With that shortfall of more than 38,000 examiners needed, and only about 260 days remaining until implementation, the FMCSA had to revise its goal downward to 20,000 examiners by May 2014, hoping to add the rest over the next year or two.
I have confidence the DOT will fare better launching this system than have certain other federal initiatives lately. Regardless, Affinity Occupational Health remains ready, willing, able; trained, tested, and registered to meet your DOT medical examination needs. Above and beyond what NRCME requires, we remain keenly sensitive to your need to control the cost of conducting this part of your business. We pledge high value service to help you comply with regulations, manage the costly burden of ill health among your employees, and avoid the even higher cost of accident liability. Your drivers will especially benefit from our unique priorities of truck driver wellness education, nurse case management, and personalized care. We can help your fleet stay healthy, safe, productive--and on the road!

Try This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Help Employees Quit Smoking

By Heidi Hayes, wellness account specialist

Affinity Occupational Health


We know smoking is one of the worst habits for your health. So what can employers do to help encourage employees to quit tobacco?

1. Make information on local stop smoking programs widely available. We recommend our Tobacco-Free Workplace Solutions on-site program, as well as Affinity's Call It Quits tobacco cessation program for individuals.


2. Offer support to employees who want to give up smoking. Think about allowing employees to attend smoking cessation classes or support programs during work hours without loss of pay. Be responsive to individual needs, and work with other local organizations committed to cessation support.


3. Work with staff and employees to create a smoking policy around the work site.


Here is some helpful information to share with employees.


Get ready.

  • Set a quit date and stick to it!
  • Think about past quit attempts. What did or did not work?

Get support and encouragement.

  • Tell family, friends and coworkers you are quitting.
  • Talk to your health care provider.
  • Seek group or individual counseling.
  • For free help, call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line @ 1-800-784-8669.
  • Call It Quits program - Affinity NurseDirect @ 1-800-362-9900

Get medication and use it correctly.

  • Talk with your health care provider about which medication will work best for you.

Learn new skills and behaviors.

  • Change your routine.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Distract yourself from urges to smoke.
  • Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids.
  • Replace smoking with low-calorie food such as carrots.

Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations.

  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Stay active.
  • Be careful around other smokers.
  • Improve your mood in ways other than smoking.
  • Eat a healthy diet.     

Are Your Employees Too Sweet for Their Own Good?  

By Rachel Johnson, RD, CD, wellness account specialist
November marks the start of the holiday season, and for many people it can also mean a spike in sugar consumption! Coincidentally (or perhaps not coincidentally), November is also American Diabetes Month and a great time to shine a light on how sugar intake affects everyone, not only those with diabetes. That sneaky little sweet finds its way into our diet in more ways than most people realize. As an employer, there are several ways you can help your employees identify where the sugar, calories, and in some cases pounds are coming from!
Affinity Occupational Health offers the following interventions to increase employee awareness when it comes to good nutrition, sugar intake, and blood glucose control:
Too Sweet for Your Own Good is a program designed to teach your employees about their blood sugar levels and determine if they are at risk for pre-diabetes and diabetes. A health coach will come on-site to perform blood glucose testing (eight-hour fasting required for testing) with a hand-held glucometer device to determine an individual's blood sugar levels. Upon receiving the immediate test result, the health coach will review the blood sugar result with the employee and coach him/her on lifestyle factors and modifiable risks to improve blood sugar levels. The health coach will give each participant educational handouts, a blood sugar tracking log, and perform a coaching session regarding each individual's personal risk.
Sugar Stacks will help your employees become detectives to find sugar in unexpected places in common foods. The Sugar Stacks program is a fun and engaging way to begin healthy conversation around the workplace about where and how to find added sugar. The program includes an interactive display with stacks of sugar representing how much sugar is found in everyday food items along with educational table tents and handouts about how to decrease daily sugar intake. At the end of the program, employees can complete a quiz on the information they learned from the program.
Obesity in a Bottle is a presentation that will bring to light the unnecessary added sugars and calories in the beverages we consume on a regular basis. By examining what we are drinking, we can find ways to make healthy substitutions to not only decrease sugar intake, but daily calorie intake as well.
Can the Soda is a month-long nutrition journaling program focusing on the importance of drinking less soda daily or cutting it out completely. The average 12-ounce can of regular soda has more sugar than women or men should be eating in an entire day! Can the Soda will encourage your employees to drink more water to maintain proper hydration and improve health.
For more information or to schedule wellness programming for your company, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532.

How Does Your Sugar Intake Stack Up?           

By Rachel Johnson, RD, CD, wellness account specialist


During the month of November, American Diabetes Month, you may not be compelled to live a day in the life of someone with diabetes, but try challenging yourself to cut down on the added sugar you eat on a regular basis. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume less than six teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar daily, and men limit added sugar intake to less than nine teaspoons (38 grams) of sugar daily. Keeping these recommendations in mind, the average American consumes, on average, 22 teaspoons every day.


To scale back your intake, surrender sugar and other refined carbohydrates!


Often when we think of sugar, we immediately cast a veil of shame over all carbohydrates. Though sugar is a carbohydrate, not all carbohydrates are the enemy. As a matter of fact, even for someone with diabetes, carbohydrates should provide the majority of calories you eat every day. Carbohydrates developed a bad reputation because of the overabundance of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the typical American diet. Refined carbohydrates include sweet bakery items like doughnuts, cookies, cakes and pastries. Refined carbohydrates don't stop there; white pasta, white bread, white rice, biscuits, rolls, crackers, pancakes, waffles, pretzels, and other white flour products make the cut for foods to surrender!


To create your own healthy carbohydrate recipe for success:


Eat carbohydrates, but eat the right ones! Enjoy an abundance of fiber and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, 100 percent whole grains (look for the whole grain stamp of approval on the box or packaging), and beans. 

Read the ingredients list and know that sugar by any other name is still sugar. If you see ingredients that end in "ose" such as sucrose, fructose, maltose, or lactose to name a few--it means sugar! Other imposters include honey, syrups (high fructose corn syrup), molasses, or fruit juice concentrates. 


Toss sugary breakfast cereal and replace it with high-fiber options. Your breakfast cereal should have less than 10 grams of sugar and greater than 5 grams of fiber per serving. 


Craving something sweet? Have a piece of fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars that when combined with the fiber and water content does not hit your system like a 12-ounce can of soda would.


Speaking of soda, CAN IT! If you are looking for somewhere to scale back on sugar and calories, start by examining what you are drinking. Consider someone who drinks one 24-ounce bottle of soda per day.  Just one 24-ounce bottle has 280 calories and 65 grams (15 teaspoons) of sugar! Over the course of a year that one bottle per day adds up to 52 pounds of sugar!  

Introducing iSYSTOC for Drug Testing Results 


Imagine the convenience of accessing your drug testing information via computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Starting in January, you can!


iSYSTOC is a component of SYSTOC, the software we use to manage our medical records system. As soon as the information becomes available in our computerized system, it's also available to you via iSYSTOC. The site is highly secure, using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) at 128-bit RSA encryption to allow only authorized personnel to access the information. As a client, you will have view-only access; you can't edit or delete any of the information.


Beginning January 1, 2014, iSYSTOC will be available to all clients utilizing Affinity Occupational Health's Medical Review Officer services. This encrypted internet site will allow you to determine the status of an employee's drug test faster than by phone and more securely than by fax.


Here's what you need to know:


You will not have to wait for the employer's copy of the custody and control form! When the collection has occurred, the date and time of collection automatically uploads to the iSYSTOC website. The employer can confirm testing has occurred in a timely manner and eliminates any question as to whether or not a refusal to test situation exists. You will print this document and retain it as your employer copy.


You will not have to wait to receive a copy of a negative drug test result. For a Non-DOT Quick Screen, a negative drug test result is immediately available. For lab based collections, the website will show a "pending" status until such time the results are received.


A "pending" status and negative drug test result is the only information we are allowed to provide via iSYSTOC. Employers will access and print the information for their records. No paper documents will be transmitted.


Non-Negative Results
The processes for reporting any non-negative result (such as positive, cancelled, substituted, adulterated) will continue to be handled as it is now. Employers will continue to receive the paper documents by fax and/or mail.


Watch for further details! This month, you will receive the instructions to access your employer account. If you have questions, please contact Julie Peterson at (920) 727-8722 or

Tobacco-Free Workplace Solutions


Affinity Occupational Health has developed a completely novel approach to the problem of tobacco in the workplace: Tobacco Free Workplace Solutions (TFWS). TFWS is a multi-dimensional motivational and educational campaign focused on everybody in the workplace and their families, not just those who use tobacco.
TFWS is a three-month "presence" in the workplace aimed at changing the culture of tobacco. We employ a multi-media approach to help employers create meaningful awareness in their organization that benefits everyone. The program is offered in three, month-long modules and provides a comprehensive approach to facilitate lasting change.
TFWS will certainly help your tobacco users to quit. It also assists former users who have already successfully quit, helping them prevent relapse. And, the program benefits employees who have never been tobacco users. Without a doubt, employers will see benefits for the entire organization. Best of all, TFWS is designed with workplace realities in mind and doesn't require ongoing meetings or time away from the job. Our modules include:
1. The Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Environment
A module for everyone! Our goal is to increase awareness of the impact of secondhand smoke and how "Smoke Free Helps You and Me" in the workplace, families and our community. We provide posters, flyers, table tents and interactive displays to demonstrate the effects of secondhand smoke. Module highlights include:
  • Understanding secondhand smoke
  • Health effects of being exposed
  • Unexpected situations in which you may be exposed to secondhand smoke and how to manage them
  • Ways to promote and support a smoke-free environment at work, home and around town
2. Supporting Tobacco Cessation
Quitting tobacco is not easy. Offering worksite resources and support is essential for success. This module provides education and increases awareness of the benefits and challenges of tobacco cessation. We will provide posters, flyers, and table tents. We will help you marshal testimonials from ex-tobacco users in your own organization to educate and engage your employees. Themes will include:
  • How to support tobacco users who want to quit
  • Understanding the importance of respect and consideration for tobacco users who aren't ready to quit and how to lend a helping hand once they decide the time is right
  • Sharing the experiences of ex-users of tobacco; these "Tobacco Free Heroes" in your organization have a story to tell that can benefit their co-workers
3. Tobacco and Youth
Away from work, almost all employees interact with children. And while at work, almost all employees worry about these children. Our focus is to increase awareness and provide resources to help these employees counteract advertizing and peer-pressure, which draws kids to tobacco. In addition to flyers and table tents, we will use the following interactive methods:
  • Educational materials geared toward parents to encourage meaningful conversations with their children, to prevent their initiation of tobacco use
  • Samples of how tobacco is marketed to youth through the movies, media and popular merchandise, and how adults can counter these
  • Information on how all adults, even those who still use tobacco, can help youth
If you are looking at implementing a tobacco-free workplace or want to enhance your current efforts, this program is a must for you. In just three months, you can create a lasting cultural change around tobacco use in your workplace. For more information on this innovative and cost-effective program, call Affinity Occupational Health at (920) 628-1533.
Get a Handle on Holiday Stress
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Planned the Thanksgiving meal? Snapped the perfect family photo for your holiday cards? The Halloween costumes are still in the laundry pile, and already the pressure is on to make the most of this year's holiday season. How can you get a handle on holiday stress--before it begins?
Ask yourself these questions:
Does this really matter?
What tasks need to get done, and which ones can be erased? Johnny can't miss his fifth grade band concert, but the neighborhood cookie exchange might do without your gingerbread men this year.
What is motivating me?
Consider the possible motives behind your task. Are you doing it because:
1. It is required?
2. You enjoy it?
3. You're worried about appearances?
4. Other people are pressuring you to do it?
5. You've always done it?
Reasons 1 and 2 are legitimate. Reasons 3, 4 and 5--forget about it. Drop any tasks from your calendar that are placed there primarily by unhealthy motives.
Are there other ways to complete this task?
Problem: Shopping woes.
Stress-saver: Buy online in your pajamas. Free shipping deals abound this time of year.
Even better: Gift cards are one-size-fits-all.
Problem: Tired of tasting envelope glue.
Stress-saver: Some online card companies offer to mail your Christmas cards for you. Supply them with addresses, and consider it done.
Even better: Send Easter cards instead.
Problem: Too much cooking for one tiny kitchen.
Stress-saver: Order out. Local grocery store delis and restaurants are happy to take the brunt of your menu chores.
Even better: Start a new tradition. Pizza for Thanksgiving--kids love it.
You get the picture. Give yourself permission to take shortcuts.
What will happen if this does not get done?
Amazingly, the world will not stop spinning if you neglect to bake Great-Grandma's famous fruitcake. If you can cut down your to-do list without jeopardizing safety, family harmony, or your bank account--then by all means, skip the task AND the stress!

What's Happening at Affinity?

Affinity Medical Group Holiday Hours


Thursday Nov. 28 - Thanksgiving
All clinics will be closed with the exception of the following departments:
Urgent Care (7:30 a.m. - noon)
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7300
* 3329 N. Richmond St., Appleton 920.380.2715
Urgent Care (8 a.m. - noon)
* 101 Main St, Neenah 920.727.4343
Pediatric Services (8 a.m. - noon)
* Children's Health Center (located at St. Elizabeth Hospital)
1506 S. Oneida St., Fifth Floor, Appleton 920.730.4950
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7200


Friday, Nov 29
Affinity Occupational Health clinics will be closed.
All other clinics will be open normal business hours.


Tuesday, Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve
All clinics will close at noon.
(Includes Urgent Care and Pediatric Departments)


Wednesday, Dec. 25 - Christmas Day
All clinics will be closed.
(Includes Urgent Care and Pediatric Departments)


Tuesday, Dec. 31 (New Year's Eve)
All clinics will be open until 5 p.m.
Urgent Care and Pediatrics will not have clinic hours after 5 p.m.


Wednesday, Jan. 1 (New Year's Day)
All clinics will be closed with the exception of the following departments:
Urgent Care (7:30 a.m. - noon)
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7300
* 3329 N. Richmond St., Appleton 920.380.2715
Urgent Care (8 a.m. - noon)
* 101 Main St, Neenah 920.727.4343
Pediatric Services (8 a.m. - noon)
* 740 Deerwood Avenue Neenah 920.751.9600
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7200


To reach a physician on call or to ask general health care questions, call Affinity NurseDirect at 800.362.9900. Emergency departments at our hospitals will be open 24 hours a day through all holidays.

Cereal with blueberriesBreakfast With the Experts


DOT Updates - Medical, Drug and Alcohol Programs
Presented by Brian Harrison, MD, medical director of health and productivity management
And Julie Peterson, controlled substance/compliance specialist
Affinity Occupational Health
Wednesday, Nov. 13
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah
Worried about the high cost of keeping your fleet drivers healthy and certified? On the other hand, does imagining the staggering cost of an unhealthy and unsafe team worry you even more?
In this timely and informative presentation, Dr. Brian Harrison will discuss how to control the cost of medical certification exams, health insurance, worker compensation, disability, and accident liability among your drivers. He will walk you through our history of responding to changes and challenges in truck driver health certification over the years, including the upcoming rule changes in May 2014 with the operation of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. 
We understand the day-to-day challenges you face managing the company's core business needs while trying to comply with a whole host of federal regulations and state laws. This is nowhere more true than in a workplace drug and alcohol testing program. Julie Peterson, controlled substance/compliance specialist, shares her expertise managing workplace drug and alcohol testing programs, using self-audit techniques, and minimizing exposure to non-compliance issues and fines.
To register for this free seminar, contact Stefanie Armstrong at  
Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 

Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service. 


Cindy Budiac
, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, is available to help clients determine the right services and programs for their needs. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in clinical health care, sales and business development. As our newest account manager, Cindy looks forward to meeting you and partnering on all your occupational health needs. 

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