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Advocacy program helps injured workers in Pennsylvania

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers cares about its members and their families, and that message needs to be heard. After all, we’re all in this together.

L-13 BM-ST John Bland

The Injured Workers Advocacy Program helps injured in Pennsylvania workers navigate the health care system.

Boilermakers are part of a unique non-profit organization in Pennsylvania that helps injured workers get the medical care they need to get back on the job. The Injured Workers Advocacy Program, or IWAP, is an organized network of medical professionals and facilities, specializing in the advocacy and treatment of injured workers. The program helps those who are suffering from work-related injuries secure necessary treatment and injury benefits.

While IWAP is not a medical care provider, nor does it provide financing, it does provide vetted provider options for those suffering from job-related injuries, and it helps workers navigate the health care labyrinth. The organization estimates that insurance denies or disputes 70-80% of workers’ compensation benefits and treatment before the injured worker can recover from their injuries.

Philadelphia’s L-13 BM-ST John Bland is a new member of the IWAP board and is still learning the ropes. “I’ve been a member of IWAP for over a year now but COVID-19 has disrupted our regular meetings.” Bland says he wants to make sure the program “is good for our Boilermakers going forward, because the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers cares about its members and their families, and that message needs to be heard. After all, we’re all in this together.”

IWAP, which launched in 2013 to address workers’ issues, is the brainchild of Philadelphia radio personality and retired Ironworker Joe Dougherty.

“I got passionate about starting this years ago when I realized how unequal the treatment was for injured workers,” Dougherty says. “We make the system easier to navigate.”

IWAP screens doctors before recommending them to injured workers. Dougherty says that doctors have to have experience treating injured workers, be board certified and have good reputations. One of the most important aspects is their agreement to treat workers even if insurance denies their claims. Providers then negotiate with workers’ comp.

In addition, providers have to agree to be part of IWAP’s new addiction initiative. The initiative asks medical professionals for anti-opioid safe treatment methods in order to stop the cycle of addiction incurred by injured workers suffering from both acute and chronic injuries. As Dougherty says, opioids aren’t always avoidable, but IWAP-approved medical providers commit to responsible pain management practices.

IWAP’s overall goal is to help injured workers get the treatment they need so they can get back to work safely —without pain and without addiction to powerful pain medications.

“Workers don’t want to be injured,” says Dougherty. “They want to be back on the job. Our mission is to help them get there.”

For members in Pennsylvania, visit http://phillylabor.com/aboutiwn

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Published February 16, 2021

The Boilermaker Reporter

Volume 60, Number 1
Jan 2021 to Mar 2021
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