February 19, 2013
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert
Many substantial ways in which Barton benefits the community are behind the scenes, and the WorkFit program, administered through Barton, is a perfect example. The advantages of WorkFit have been enough to grow the program from one client in 2006 to 27 throughout 2012.
WorkFit started as a partership between Barton Community College, Innovative Livestock Services and Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine. The program provides a Physical Capacity Profile Testing System (PCP), which measures the strength and fitness of individuals according to the type of work for which a company is hiring.
For example, welding jobs might require some heavy lifting and specific movements. Applicants for these jobs would be tested for strength in those specific areas to ensure they are fit for the job.
PCP is also used to determine when an injured employee is fit to return to work, and can point out where previous injuries might exist.
The advantages of possessing this information before hiring, or prior to allowing an employee to return to work after an injury, are bountiful.
According to Barton's website, WorkFit helps employers by:
- Reducing injuries by ensuring employees have the strength to perform job duties safely.
- Reducing workers compensation exposure by identifying pre-existing impairments.
- Helping treatment professionals expedite the rehabilitation process.
CEO of Innovative Livestock Services Andrew Murphy said the most obvious reason to use WorkFit is the reduction in liability costs, which allows the company to do more and create more jobs, but said he's most grateful that the program is operated locally.
"We're not dealing with some national healthcare cooperative coming in to do this," he said. "It's a huge benefit to keep things associated with the local people we know and work with every day and see on the street. The dollars will be spent one way or another, so we might as well keep it in the community.”
The economic benefit is only one way in which WorkFit has been an asset. It has also improved safety in the workplace.
"It's a great program that has been beneficial in not only helping us make it better for employees by providing a safer environment," Murphy added, "but understanding what levels of work the folks are doing out in the field and hiring those who fit the profile helps us hire more efficiently."
Key players in making WorkFit a reality pose next to the Physical Capacity Profile Testing System, which is the machine that makes WorkFit possible. They are (from left) Ryan Zink, WorkFit PCP Test Administrator at Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine; Dan Crites, Certified Physical Therapist Assistant and WorkFit PCP Test Manager at Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine; Teresa Malone, Physical Therapist and owner of Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine; Krystall Barnes, Barton Coordinator of Workforce Training Projects & Events; Aaron Spanier, Director of Human Resources, Innovative Livestock Services; and Elaine Simmons, Barton Dean of Workforce Training and Community Education.
Physical Therapist Teresa Malone works directly with the local businesses to perform the PCP tests at Advanced Therapy and Sports Medicine, where the testing system is housed.
"Working with Barton has definitely been a good experience," Malone said. "The need in the community is number one. We're all trying to keep our overhead down and this is one way to do that. It helps local small businesses keep expenses down and keep their core employees productive and healthy, and that's what we all want."
Becker Tire is one of the top clients of the WorkFit program. Becker Tire's Human Resource Manager Sondra Uhrich said the company's participation in WorkFit has been an invaluable tool.
"WorkFit has provided us an insight and peace of mind when hiring new employees," she said.
Barton County also utilizes the service. County Administrator Richard Boeckman said the test has decreased the county's workmen's compensation claims over the last several years.
“The Physical Capacity Profile testing is a good, accurate pre-employment physical," he said.Barton Community College will be hosting a demonstration of the PCP Testing System for employers in May. For more information about WorkFit, contact Coordinator of Workforce Training Projects and Events Krystall Barnes at (620) 792-9332, or visit WorkFit.bartonccc.edu.