Still have questions for Kim Alvis, R.N., COHN? Good news! Inside CTEH is back with Part II of our conversation with CTEH’s senior medical specialist:
While at CTEH, you and your colleagues have authored papers on the value of HAZWOPER medical surveillance and workplace heat stress management programs. Can you tell us more about this research?
In 2011, CTEH nurses were mobilized to Dallas for an emergency response, where workers were wearing Level A personal protective equipment in more than 100 degree Fahrenheit weather. We began monitoring the workers for heat stress. We measured and recorded blood pressure, temperature, respirations and weight before and after entering the hot zone—following a monitoring schedule recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Our article, “Heat Stress Management Program Improving Worker Health and Operational Effectiveness,” utilized this work as a case study for how heat stress monitoring can serve as a vital component of an effective health and safety program for employees working in warm environments.
We authored the paper, “The Value of HAZWOPER Medical Surveillance,” following our research of CTEH employees who regularly responded to hazardous material releases throughout the U.S. We found that medical surveillance provided valuable information regarding a worker’s underlying health status and non-occupational health conditions to be addressed at an early age, including weight and prevalent metabolic syndrome.
You have certifications in respirator fit testing, environmental monitoring, hazardous material response and more. How do these benefit your clients?
The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) defines occupational and environmental health nursing as a specialty practice that “provides for and delivers health and safety programs and services to workers, worker populations and community groups.” As a certified occupational and environmental health nurse with nearly 15 years of experience, I’m considered an expert in our field. I am able to assist our clients to promote healthy workplace practices; prevent illnesses and injuries; and help protect them from work-related or environmental hazards.
You’ve made a priority to give back to the community. What causes or organizations have you been involved with during your career?
I’m a current member and past vice president of the Arkansas Association of Occupational Health Nurses and member of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. Outside of work, I read to young school-aged children at our local elementary school every week. For the last 10 years, I’ve also served as a foster mom for the Arkansans Assisting Homeless Animals Rescue Group—providing love and training to help rescue dogs be adopted into forever homes.