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What you missed at WCEC 2017

Check out the #WCI2017 hashtag on Twitter to see realtime updates from conference attendees.
Check out the #WCI2017 hashtag on Twitter to see realtime updates from conference attendees.

The Workers’ Compensation Institute's 72nd annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference, held Aug. 7-9 at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida, once again saw record attendance numbers.

The event opened Aug. 7 with its general session, during which WCI General Chairman Jim McConnaughhay welcomed the crowd, and Steven A. Rissman, WCI's program chairman, delivered opening remarks (Photo: Jonathan Mast).

Scholarships were awarded to students whose families were affected by work-related injuries, and National Underwriter Property & Casualty honored its Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management winners for their stellar accomplishments.

David North, president and CEO of award co-sponsor Sedgwick, and Mark Wilhelm, CEO of award co-sponsor Safety National, were on hand to present the winners — Butterball LLCCherokee County, Georgia, and Nations Roof LLC — with their award statuettes.

Doug Clark, director of client services, special investigation unit for Sedgwick CMS, presented a donation of $50,000 to Give Kids the World, a storybook-themed resort in central Florida for seriously ill children.

Keep reading for more about WCI's volunteer day at Give Kids the World and WCI 2017.

Related: Entries being accepted for NU's 'Agency of the Year' Awards

NU P&C Editor-in-Chief Shawn Moynihan participated in WCI's volunteer day at Give Kids the World on Aug. 5. The volunteer day was followed by a gala that evening at the Orlando World Center Marriott, and attendees raised $50,000 to donate to the charitable organization through its silent auction.

(Photo: Jonathan Mast)

Doug Clark of Sedgwick presented the check for $50,000 dollars to Give Kids the World at the General Session on Aug. 7.

Related: WCEC helps Give Kids the World


NU P&C bestowed its Excellence in Workers' Compensation Risk Management awards during the General Session. The following morning, on Aug. 8, Moynihan led a panel with the three winners on national trends in Workers' Comp.

Moynihan with Bob Alford, human resources manager of Cherokee County, Georgia; Brian Rodgers, senior director of corporate risk management for Butterball LLC; and Neftali Ortiz, director of risk management at Nations Roof LLC, following their panel on Aug. 8.

Related: Nations Roof: Workers' comp reaches a new level

(Photo: Catherine Bennett)

Workers' Compensation 2.0

Following the opening remarks and award presentations at the General Session, Kimberly George, senior vice president of corporate development, M&A and healthcare for Sedgwick, and Mark Walls, vice president of communications and strategic analysis for Safety National, moderated a panel for a live edition of the show "Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark," comprising four executives of companies with extensive experience in the various facets of Workers' Compensation.

In a session set at some point in 2019, David Stills, vice president of global risk management for Walmart Stores Inc. and Matthew Peterson, CEO, ancillary and individual chief administrative officer, employer and individual insurance for UnitedHealth Group, join North and Wilhelm to discuss the possible outcomes if the U.S. Supreme Court were to declare state Workers’ Comp systems unconstitutional because they were no longer the "grand bargain" for workers that they once were.

Related: Workers’ Compensation: 10 issues to watch for 2017

Some of the changes included a greater focus on the outcomes for workers and employers, and better efforts to reduce the bureaucracy within the Workers' Comp system because the current one exceeds $3 trillion each year and a lack of red tape could make the system more efficient. Although the executives believed that it would be helpful to have federal guidelines for the system, they strongly believed each state should have the autonomy to establish programs that would attract employers to their state and still meet workers' needs. 

Another issue that should be addressed involves various medical gaps in the system such as mental health benefits and who receives them and when.

North suggested the possibility of taking the Workers' Comp system and merging it into the healthcare system. "If you have an injury, you receive treatment," he said, regardless of the cause of the injury. He also suggested that employees should take on greater responsibility for preventing and mitigating their injuries, such as better managing their personal health, watching their sugar levels if they are diabetic, or not drinking and driving.

Related: Workers' Compensation: 10 more issues to watch for 2017


Derrick Brooks keynote

Derrick Brooks, former linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, talked about the importance of faith in the workplace as the opening keynote Monday. He explained that the concept of "faith" takes many forms ranging from loyalty, trust, prayer and inspiration to love, foundation, consistency, fellowship and teamwork. He said each person is responsible for bringing it to the workplace.

Related: Key to workers’ compensation success: Adapt to changing environment

"While teamwork begins with me, it involves thinking of others," said Brooks. He used the analogy of trying to achieve anything on the football field, saying "you can’t hide on a football field and you can’t win by yourself. You need 10 other players to achieve those goals. We can’t achieve anything in life without others — whether it is our spouse, our co-workers or our team."

Brooks also said that displaying faith comes in some of the most difficult moments. "Your faith will be tested. We all have dreams, but we rarely think about the obstacles," he explained. "The more I dream and set goals, the more I look forward to those obstacles because I have a great stage to be tested."

He also highlighted the importance of connection in the workplace, saying there is nothing about a disconnect that will be productive. "Look for the opportunities to make someone better and to make yourself better. You don't know it all, and it's humbling when someone can teach us and becomes a part of our success."

Related: 9 things insurance agents can do to help employers manage workers' comp costs

The theme on the exhibit floor this year was "Movies," and exhibitors had a lot of fun creating a themed experience for attendees.

Related: 7 riskiest movies ever made

MTI's James Bond-themed booth drew in attendees ready to try their hand at the casino on the other side of the façade.

Select Medical's booth had a "Star Wars" theme, much to the delight of Moynihan, a life-long fan of the movie franchise.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall ... let's play some games! NeuroInternational's booth featured an interactive mirror to go with its "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" theme.

Tenet Health's booth took attendees "back to the future" with the chance to take a picture in a Delorean like the one from the "Back to the Future" movies.

Related: Sit up straight: Millennials, safety and ergonomics

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