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Maine Occupational Research Agenda (MORA)

Steering Committee Meeting

December 11, 2002




Members Present: Peter Doran, Jonathan Lepoff, Ron Dyer, Leslie Walleigh,

Brenda Joly, Louise Morang, Ivan Most

Staff Present: Lynne Lamstein, Kim Lim, Linda Nickerson

Guests Present: Al Prysunka, Maine Health Data Organization

Castine Verrill, Maine Cancer Registry

Louise Morang, Maine Association of Occupational Health Nurses


The meeting was called to order by Peter Doran at 9:11 a.m. Guests were introduced and thanked for attending.

Presentation - Al Prysunka, Maine Health Data Organization:

Mr. Prysunka advised that the Maine Health Data Organization is an independent state agency and gave a brief history. The agency was originally established in 1996; itís objective being to create useful, objective, reliable and comprehensive health information database to improve the health of Maine citizens. The agency is governed by a 20-member board: (4) consumers; (3) employers; (2) third-party payers; (9) providers; (2) Department of Human Resources.

The agency is funded by health care providers and payers. Mr. Prysunka circulated a copy of his power point presentation listing the organization, databases and web sites available to access information.

Currently they are working on a database that will cover big companies such as Cianbro, IP, National Semi-Conductor, that have been self-insured and will now be included in the database. There are some confidentiality issues as in all databases that will not allow access to specific information. The data base for non-hospital ambulatory cases initiated in 1990 will be phased out.

Mr. Prysunka advised that they just received a grant that will soon be on the web site where you can look up queries for data.

Copies of the State of Maine Rules for Maine Health Data Organization was circulated.

Peter thanked Mr. Prysunka for his presentation. Anyone wanting to contact Mr. Prysunka may call him at 207-287-6723 or email at: <>.


Presentation - Castine Verrill, Maine Cancer Registry

Ms. Verrill advised that she represents the Maine Cancer Registry (MCR). The MCR maintains a database for all diagnosed cancer cases and treated cases. Recently, they learned that data obtained from medical records is incomplete; therefore, fields were looked at to see what was missing for data. Items such as self employed, retired, unknown, not reported, disabled, doesnít tell them what the person was doing for an occupation and exposure. It was noted that a change is necessary at the hospital admissions level as to what is recorded when a person comes into a hospital. A receptionist needs to know what to ask and look for so that accurate information can be obtained. A physician can also obtain such information as well, so that data can be more complete and accurate. This way, patients can be contacted to find out what they did for work and exposure. Like many agencies, they are short staffed and havenít been able to follow up on the educational piece to pursue this area.

Currently Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are performing a study and working with the Cancer Institute to investigate the high rates of bladder cancer. This is an in-depth study where they will be asking what the occupation was/is, the exposure and relationship. Discussion followed on toxic exposures, drinking water, and relationships between the two.

Ms. Verrill was thanked for her presentation. Anyone wanting to contact her may do so by calling 207-287-5190 or email at: <>. She will be taking Dr. Peggy Parsonsí place on the Steering Committee.


Update - Ivan Most:

Ivan advised that he met last week with the Commission on Safety and Health in the Maine Workplace. He gave a presentation on MORA, what we are doing, gave an update on the 2003 conference and advised that we have received funding from NIOSH. He was of the opinion that the Commission may think the MORA is still looking for funding, which isnít the case. Discussion of issues, one in particular, workplace violence where the Commission wanted to know if MORA was focusing on it. Ivan advised that he would report back to MORA the Commissionís focus on workplace violence and to see if there is an interest on MORAís part.

"Another area of discussion was the Commissionís loan program, whether they had done anything to evaluate recipients of funds and if any intervention effectiveness had taken place. They have not. They support money for programs with no follow up. The State is putting money into these programs and it doesnít sound like they are being evaluated which is an issue all by itself. In terms of an occupational health situation, we have an intervention being paid for by a loan program being sponsored by the state and whatís the effectiveness? Seemed to be some interest in that."

Kim Lim advised that the workplace violence issue was brought up years ago, and he advised them that if they wanted something done in that area, they would need to get funding in order to do surveillance.

Peter Doran asked for thoughts on whether it would be purposeful for MORA to initiate a request, a strong recommendation, that they have an evaluation carried out on the program?

Ivan Most - "My thought was they were doing it. We have a place in our conference for best practices. Wouldnít it be great if a success story from the loan program be featured in the conference, but found out that they donít evaluate the loans."

Lynne Lamstein - "If this group wants to pursue the loan program and its effectiveness, we need to sit down with Bill Peabody and talk with him about it. Commission is not of use to pursue this. They donít necessarily have control over data; but doesnít mean we canít get to it. Mr. Peabody would know statute and rules and assist."

Peter Doran -" MORA mission is to promote occupational health and safety research based upon priorities. It would be of high importance for MORA to consider the loan program to be a purposeful initiative to promote."

Ivan Most -"The way the program is being administered right now, no. If it was changed to have requirements, specific reasons for improvement to health and safety, that could be measured, it may be of value."

Leslie Walleigh -"No wonder you are making them nervous. Thereís no scrutiny as to what they are doing, and we, as taxpayers, need to be concerned."

Jonathan Lepoff advised the group that a safety site assessment does take place by BLSís Workplace Safety and Health staff member.

The question was asked if there is an overarching facility that the Commission answers to?

Ms. Nickerson responded that the Commission does not make decisions. They make recommendations to the Commissioner of Labor, who in turn makes the final decision, signs off, etc.

Commission membership criteria, terms, etc. was discussed, how people are appointed by the Governor, etc. Possibility that new administration may change membership, MORA could recommend to the Governor to appoint a member of MORA to the Commission, with the Bureau supporting it.

Ivan was thanked for meeting with the commission members.

Ivan Most - Partnership Award

Ivan circulated copies of a NORA Partnership Award for worker safety and Health. Mr. Most heard of this award while attending a NIOSH conference and found it not only interesting, but believes that MORA may qualify for this. Deadline for the award is March 3, 2003. Mr. Most reached out to Roger Rosa at NIOSH to discuss the criteria of the award and MORAís accomplishments. Mr. Rosa requested to have information on MORA sent to him, in turn, he will present it to the award group and get back to him as to whether MORA could fit into an award group. Ivan Is waiting for a response from Mr. Rosa.

Conference 2003 Update - Lynne Lamstein, Kim Lim, Ivan Most

Lynne circulated a draft of the conference presentation and asked for assistance with the areas that are marked with an arrow. This is not needed today, but she asked members would get back to her as soon as possible.

Under B-5, would Steve Minkowsky, be able to participate? Lynne is looking more for a roundtable discussion rather than presentation. Discussion followed with Leslie volunteering to assist. Leslie will follow up with Steve Minkowsky.

An area to think about for the "Convener" is having the new Governor. When/if a new Commissioner is appointed, he/she should be contacted immediately to meet with the MORA group. The possibility of having the Governor do the opening remarks would be great or the Commissioner.

Lynne advised that she would need a list of members that would be requiring overnight accommodations at the MORA conference in order to work on financial figures.

The possibility of a facilitator to coordinate data, presentations, designs, etc. would be helpful. Discussion followed. Lynne will follow up with Alan Hinsey regarding this subject.

Lynne advised that she would like to have the final MORA brochure completed by the end of January. If members have people/organizations that they would like to have the brochure sent to, please let her know. Preferably electronic email addresses. Links to other organizations on the web site was suggested.

Research Priorities Discussion:

Kim Lim stated that MORA is two years "young" in comparison to NORA being ten years "old". The grants have been based on MORA playing a major role in research. BLS was just awarded a grant from Harvard on the commercial fishing problems, in which MORA played a part. Symposium grant was based on MORA. Mr. Lim is referencing MORA on all subjects and programs he works on. A workplace violence study is going to take place where Kim has offered assistance of MORA. We may not see an immediate impact on an agency right now, but the long-term result will be effective.

Kim Lim circulated a flow chart of MORA and research agenda topics. By review of each topic box, it is obvious that MORA is focusing on many NORA conference issues. As each topic comes up, it can fall within one of those "boxes" or several boxes of the flow chart as a research topic agenda item. We can use the NIOSH 21 area as a guide to see where MORA can progress in interacting with other agencies. When talking with NORA, the chart will show what MORA does in relationship to their activities.

Discussion followed on priorities and accountability. Leslie reminded members that at a previous meeting, members were advised to come to the January meeting with a topic for research and to be aware of other agencies that we could partner with.

Legislative Advocacy:

Suggestion was made to have the new Commissioner of Labor (after appointment) involved with MORA to increase awareness of MORAís accomplishments, and to reach out to legislators.


Steering Committee Membership and Structure:

Lengthy discussion followed on managing future activities, mission, structure, idea of becoming a separate entity pros and cons, financial issues, etc. Should we continue as a steering committee, or what would be a more appropriate structure? Suggestion of creating a subcommittee to follow up on this subject was made. All were in consensus. Jonathan suggested having Stan Eller as a member of the subcommittee group. It was also suggested to have the subcommittee consist of five members. Carol, Ruth, Ivan, Stan, and Kim were identified as possible members of this subcommittee.

Lynne suggested having someone facilitate this process, such as Alan Hinsey. Lynne and Kim will be meeting with Alan Hinsey and will discuss this with him.

Suggestion was made for the steering committee to meet after lunch on the second day of the 2003 conference to discuss the recommendations for changes in organization.

Next Meeting:

The next meeting was scheduled for January 8, 2003. Request was made to reschedule it to January 15th. All were in agreement. The next meeting is scheduled for January 15, 2003, at BLS, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in the first floor training room which is the room at the end of the hallway.

Lynne circulated copies of a draft brochure for people to review and requested people to get back to her with suggestions and/or comments, especially on cover page preference.


The meeting adjourned at 12:00 p.m.