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MARGARET STROZ, MD
Medical Director, Occupational Health Center
"Chester County Hospital is proud to be a part of Penn Medicine."
As a medical staff physician at Chester County Hospital, even with the uncertainties inherent with change, I am pleased by this news. The open communication from our President and CEO Michael Duncan to our hospital community and from Dr. Richard Donze in this current Occupational Health newsletter make the message clear. "It';s official." We';ve changed. And "We will now blend the best of the Chester County Hospital with the remarkable achievements of Penn Medicine to create one of the leading hospitals in the Philadelphia suburbs."
Changes and challenges associated with mergers are not unique to our hospital system. As the Medical Director of the Occupational Health Center and a recently Certified Medical Examiner by the National Registry, I am weathering changes that were put in place back in 2012 by the FMCSA. Let me provide some history.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established as a separate administration within the Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 1, 2000, with a primary mission to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses involved in interstate commerce. In carrying out its safety mandate, it develops and enforces
regulations, provides educational material to carriers, drivers and the public, and partners with state and local enforcement agencies.
This FMCSA strategic plan in 2012 of "Raising the bar to entry, maintaining high safety standards and removing high risk carriers and drivers" resulted in rulings for New Medical Certification Requirements and the formation of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The anticipated changes from these rulings were a concern for many stakeholders involved including, drivers, carriers and medical examiners.
WHAT COULD WE EXPECT FROM NEW AGENCY OVERSIGHT AND REGULATIONS?
WOULD IT BE BENEFICIAL OR FRAUGHT WITH DIFFICULTIES?
The first rule mandated new medical certification requirements to be in place by January 30, 2014. All CDL holders must provide a current medical examiners certificate to the state driver';s licensing administration as part of their driving record to ensure that the driver is not disqualified and does not possess a duplicate license. This process to partner with state licensing agencies is a measure to enhance driver safety, but has also led to numerous questions. How do you submit a self-certification form? What are the definitions of Excepted, Non-excepted, interstate and intrastate commerce? Like the Chester County Hospital did during their transition to Penn Medicine, PA DOT has provided comprehensive guidance online to smoothly navigate the changes. In providing expertise to our clients with commercial drivers, this website has quickly become one of my favorites.
The second rule effective May 21, 2012 established a National Registry with requirements that all medical examiners who conduct physical exams for interstate CMV drivers meet training and certification criteria. On the compliance date in May 2014, all motor carriers and drivers will be required to use only Certified National Registry Medical Examiners. The OHC is taking steps to have all medical providers certified by early 2014.
Once again, the FMCSA';s strategic plan to enhance drive safety by raising the standards for medical examiners through webbased information of medical standards, medical expert opinions and review board guidelines has proven invaluable.
The task to determine that a driver can safely operate a CMV has been eased through clearly communicated standards,
available online to examiners and drivers.
I am no longer apprehensive in anticipation of the compliance dates in 2014. Rather, through my experience with the hospital';s merger, I am aware that with planning, access to information, and a goal toward excellence, the benefits are well worth the efforts to change. Allow us, the Occupational Health Center, to be a point of excellence for your DOT needs as we merge ahead with changes within both our health system and the Federal Motor Safety Carrier world.
Last Updated: 12/16/2013