Injured employees in Summit County now have another option for care |

Injured employees in Summit County now have another option for care

VSON added an occupational health provider to its practice in August

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery
Is it a work injury? For on-the-job injuries that aren’t obvious or sudden, an occupational health provider can provide documentation that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier factors into its claim decision.
Getty Images
Free webinar about VSON’s new occupational health services

Calling all employers, managers, and HR staff! Join us for a live webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10:30 a.m. to learn about VSON’s new Occupational Medicine program.

VSON is now offering occupational health services. What does this mean for you, the employer? This means should you or your employees be injured on the job you can come to our clinic to be treated. We are offering more choices in Summit County for occupational health related medical needs.

Zach Feldman, VSON’s primary occupational health provider, will present on what VSON has to offer and how it benefits you.

A live Q&A will follow the event. VSON’s goal is to take the anxiety out of workers’ comp.

Support Local Journalism

Registration is free but required:

It’s easy to imagine that most orthopaedic injuries in Summit County occur during adventurous outdoor activities, but many injuries also happen on-the-job.

In fact, a majority of all on-the-job injuries are orthopaedic injuries, which is why it makes sense for an orthopaedic practice to have an occupational medicine specialist in-house, said Physician Assistant Zachary Feldman, who joined Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery in August to help streamline the process for patients and health care providers alike.

Thankfully, the complexities of these on-the-job injury cases are much less complicated when someone deals with it every day, Feldman said. With experience as a Physician Assistant in orthopaedic medicine prior to occupational medicine, and a passion for the mountain lifestyle, Feldman feels he’s landed in exactly the right place.

Workers’ comp

Physician Assistant Zachary Feldman joined Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery in August as an occupational health provider.
Courtesy Photo

Essentially, occupational medicine is the treatment of patients who have been injured on the job under workers’ compensation insurance. As an occupational health provider, Feldman is the extra layer of much-needed knowledge in an often laborious system.

“What I do is primary workers’ comp — when somebody gets injured on the job, the patient can come straight to me and I evaluate them to figure out the best course of treatment,” he said.

For both employers and their injured employees, this process can be stressful.

“Workers’ comp tends to have a lot of anxiety around it — the employee’s been injured, they’re afraid they’re not going to get properly taken care of; they’re afraid it’ll be the cheap way out; or they’re afraid they’re going to have to pay for something that happened to them while working,” Feldman said. “And another anxiety is that, ‘I’ve been hurt. Am I going to be able to go to work and earn a paycheck?’”

Feldman’s experience and ability to guide patients through the process can help remove those anxieties, focusing on treatment and recovery so patients can get back to work.

The role of occupational health

Anyone with a work-related injury should be seen by an occupational health provider, who examines the patient and documents a professional opinion of the injury. Specifically, the provider must be at least 51% sure the injury was work-related.

“That has to be documented for workers’ comp insurance to cover the injury,” Feldman said.

Because of his experience, Feldman knows what kinds of questions to ask to determine with certainty whether an injury was work-related or the result of something else. He’ll ask questions about a patient’s work life, their job description, as well as other lifestyle questions. If Feldman is not 51% certain, but feels there is an aspect of their work life that could be contributing to an injury, it would kick the decision back to the insurance provider.

“The clinician has done his job to document it, now it’s the insurer’s job to make a decision about whether they’re going to pay and treat this,” he said.

Depending on the severity of the injury, most patients can head straight to Feldman for evaluation and do not need to be seen at an outside urgent care or emergency room. If he determines through the course of the evaluation that an orthopaedic surgeon needs to treat the patient, he’ll refer the patient to one of the VSON physicians or another in-network provider.

“If an ambulance has crossed your mind, go straight to the ER,” he said. “If you’re not 100% sure where you should go, call us.”

Under one roof

Having occupational health under the same roof as the orthopaedic clinic benefits the workers’ comp patient by having the convenience of X-Ray, orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapy and MRI all at one location. Feldman can see a patient with a broken bone, for example, put them in a splint and then send them straight to orthopaedic care.

“If I know a patient has an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon on Friday, I’ll try to schedule my follow-up with that patient the same day after they’ve seen the surgeon, and I’ll go and have a five-minute, eye-to-eye conversation with the doctor,” Feldman said. “Then, the patient sees me and I can write up the official documentation and it goes straight to the patient’s employer, rather than spreading this whole process out over several days. It saves time, money and effort.”

Occupational Medicine at VSON

Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery launched an Occupational Medicine program in August of 2020, offering a consolidated healthcare solution to organizations and businesses in Summit County. VSON’s Occupational Medicine program aims to benefit the Summit County community by providing a new, dynamic choice for employers. Services are all located in one location, reducing the stress and uncertainty that often comes with workers’ compensation claims and work-related injuries.

Having occupational health under the same roof as the orthopaedic clinic benefits the workers’ comp patient by having the convenience of X-Ray, orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapy and MRI all at one location.

If you are interested in learning more about VSON’s Occupational Medicine program, call 970-668-3633 and ask for Zach Feldman, PA, or email

Support Local Journalism