10th Annual Safe Patient Handling Conference – Speakers Bios

List of Speakers and Bios

Track 1: Acute Care

Team Leader – Robert Guest- Cert MDT MSPT – Bob has 26 years’ experience in the healthcare field. He has worked in the fields of skilled nursing, acute care, medical rehabilitation, homecare and sports medicine. As the Coordinator of Patient Handling and Injury Prevention for Kaleida Health, Robert educates healthcare workers how to safely move and rehabilitate patients. He has performed environmental and ergonomic assessments in healthcare and the auto industry.

Additionally, Robert has been a guest speaker at the New York State Safe Patient Handling (SPH) Conference since 2005. He presented a SPH poster at the National SPH Conference in Orlando. In 2009, he participated in the development of the SPH Lab at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Robert is an instructor educating future nurses, and physical and occupational therapists in SPH and movement.

He continues to develop SPH programs throughout New York State through grant funded projects. The programs have been developed in homecare settings, outpatient clinics, group homes, hospitals, imaging centers and skilled nursing facilities. Robert is a member of the NYS Zero Lift Task Force and NYS SPH Work Group. In 2013 he was the recipient winner of the NYS Zero Lift Task Force Safe Patient Handling and Movement Award of Excellence.

Denise Abbott RN – Denise has been a bedside nurse for over 13 years, most recently working in emergency care. She is an active member with CWA Local 1168 and has been working closely with leadership for over 5 years on health and safety matters that pertain to their members. Her current role for 3 years has been as the Health and Safety Director, which has her working closely with the Ergonomics team at Kaleida Health and their safe patient handling program. She is also a board member of WYNCOSH, which helps workers of all occupations with many health and safety issues. She was also a member of the New York State Safe Patient Handling Workgroup that was implemented for the development of best practices, sample policies and other resources for the development of SPH programs under the New York State Safe Patient Handling Law. She is active with the Zero Lift Committee which has enriched her knowledge of safe patient handling.

Shannon Mahar RN – Shannon has 2+ years of experience as a bedside nurse at ECMC on the Medical/Surgical Telemetry Unit. Shannon has had an interest in ergonomics since she worked in food service for many years. She is currently a NYSNA delegate on ECMC’s Safe Patient Handling committee. She is also a member of the SPH subcommittee responsible for evaluating injury reports. She attended the 2016 NYS Safe Patient Handling Conference and has since worked toward improving the Safe Patient Handling program at ECMC.

Loretta Miller – PT, DPT, NCS, CEAS has been a physical therapist for 23 years with experience throughout the continuum of care encompassing both adults and children. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at Daemon College and then went on to achieve a Doctorate of physical therapy from D’Youville College. Loretta has been a Certified Neurologic Specialist for 16 years and is a Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist as well. As the Safe Patient Handling Coordinator for Erie County Medical Center Corporation, she regularly performs training for employees on best practice for moving patients safely incorporating safe patient handling equipment. Loretta routinely performs ergonomic assessments and recommendations within the facility.

Track 2: Long Term Care/Sub Acute Rehab

Team Leader- Melissa Rowland, RN, PTA – Melissa Rowland’s experience in healthcare has spanned over 16 years. She has practiced as a Physical Therapist Assistant, and currently as a Registered Nurse in a WNY acute care hospital. She has been a presenter and hands-on lab instructor for New York SPH conferences. She has attended several of the conferences held annually in Florida. She has been a lead trainer for the Western New York Council on Safety and Health (WNYCOSH), implementing and training SPH throughout western New York nursing facilities. Her experience consists of acute care, long term care, short term rehab, and trauma rehab. Currently Melissa is a team member and trainer on a collaborative project and SPH Lab with WNYCOSH and the University of Buffalo, to provide training to students entering healthcare professions. She is also a member of the NYS Zero Lift Task Force.

Suzanne Hake, PT – Suzanne graduated from Daemon College and currently is a Physical Therapist at New York State Batavia Veterans Home. She has assisted in implementing a Safe Patient Handling program in 2005. She has worked with CSEA in securing a grant for equipment and education for New York State Veterans home in Batavia. Suzanne has also presented a poster at the national Safe Patient Handling conference in Clearwater, FL. She continues to serve on her Safe Patient Handling Committee.

Laurie Muratore, PT, DPT, CSPHP – Laurie is the Injury Prevention Clinical Coordinator managing the Safe Patient Handling and Ergonomic Safety Programs at Rochester Regional Health. Laurie graduated with a BS in Physical Therapy from the University of Buffalo in 1994 and completed her DPT through St. Scholastica College in 2016. Laurie has 20+ years of experience with patient care focus in various settings such as inpatient acute care, SNF rehabilitation, outpatient orthopedics, work hardening, functional capacity evaluations, ergonomic consults, and injury prevention programming. From 2010 to 2013, Laurie functioned as the Injury Prevention Specialist for the Rochester General Health System, developing a successful Safe Patient Handling and Ergonomic program. In 2013, Laurie earned her Certification as a Safe Patient Handling Professional and is currently integrating programs across 5 hospitals, 4 long term care facilities, 2 home health agencies and many medical group settings. The Rochester Regional Health Workers’ Compensation and Injury Prevention Team was recently recognized by the New York State Zero Lift Task Force with the Safe Patient Handling Award of Excellence in 2017.

Paula Pless COTA, EES- Paula has over 34 years of experience in Long-Term Care and Acute Care and is currently working for the largest health care provider in Western NY, Kaleida Health. She has expertise in implementing Safe Patient Handling programs in all aspects of health care including Long Term Care, Acute Care, Outpatient clinics, Home Care and DDSO Group Homes. Paula, an expert trainer and facilitator, has worked very closely with labor and management to implement SPH programs from initial set up, facilitation of Ergonomic SPH Teams and Environmental Assessments through to full SPH program implementation. Paula was a member of the NYS SPH Workgroup that helped NYS define SPH program components, Best Practices and SPH Guidelines for program implementation.

Track 3: Caring for People with Developmental Disabilities or Mental Health Disorders

Team Leader- Elizabeth Allaire-Love (Betsy), PT, MSPT, Chief PT, SPH Co-Chair, Finger Lakes DDSO / OPWDD – Betsy graduated from Ithaca College with her MS in PT and has worked at the Finger Lakes DDSO for the past 21 years, most recently as Chief PT and Co-Chair of the Safe Patient Handling Committee. She has been involved in SPH at Finger Lakes since its beginnings as a Back Safety and Lifting trainer for new employees in the late 1990s until 2011 when she promoted the formation of the agency SPH interdisciplinary committee. Since that time Betsy has enjoyed working alongside dynamic and talented staff and trainers across the agency to continue the growth of the SPH program, ongoing staff training and procurement of SPH equipment for residences and program sites across 10 counties in Upstate NY. Betsy has also collaborated with other Heads and Chiefs of OT and PT across NYS OPWDD to unify training curriculum and processes for SPH. This is her second year presenting at the NYS Safe Patient Handling Conference.

Tracy Smith-Bivins RN- Tracy Smith-Bivins’ experience in health care has spanned over 35 years. She has practiced as a Electroneurodiagnostic Technician, and currently as a Clinical Registered Nurse for Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital as Director of Medical Equipment. She also serves as Assistant Counsel Leader and Health and Safety chair for the PEF union. In recent years, she has been working closely with WNYCOSH to establish a No-lift policy at the Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital where she has also served for the past 2 years as Chair for the Safe Patient Handling Committee.

Megan Coville, OTR/L, Risk Management Consultant, OneGroup – Megan graduated from the University at Buffalo with her Master’s Degree and initially worked as an OTR/L at the ARC of Ulster Greene, where she focused on SPH within the agency’s programs and residences. She transitioned to her current position as a Risk Management Consultant with OneGroup in 2011, and currently works as a consultant and advisor for 26 ARCs and other private sector agencies serving people with developmental disabilities. She brings a wealth of knowledge from both the front line as an OT as well as behind the scenes in a management role, as she assists organizations to identify the risks and root causes of problems, and to work toward preventing injuries on the job. Megan is currently working on obtaining her Associates Degree in Risk Management. This is her fifth year presenting at the NYS Safe Patient Handling Conference.

Timothy Pierce has 10 1/2 years of experience in the mental health filed. Timothy was co-chair for Health and Safety Committee under CSEA past leadership. He currently works on the Mobil unit at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, escorting patients on outing and medical appoints and to court. Tim helps oversees the hospital medical equipment, and Central Supply. This also includes helping with medical services that are provide in the clinical committee and had been a great help in providing information to the SPH.

Michelle Rugaber, COTA, Lifetime Assistance Inc. – Michelle is a COTA at Lifetime Assistance in Rochester where she spearheaded the initiative to bring SPH training and equipment into 26 homes and program sites starting in 2009. She earned a BS in Sociology from Fredonia State University and later graduated with an Associate Degree in Applied Science from GCC as an OTA. Michelle has worked with people with developmental disabilities in varying capacities for almost 20 years. This is her third year presenting at the NYS Safe Patient Handling Conference.

Carmen Vianese, SPH Co-Chair, Finger Lakes DDSO / OPWDD – Carmen graduated from HCCC in 1986 with her Associate’s Degree in Applied Science and from NYIM in 1998 with her Massage Therapy Degree. She has worked at the Finger Lakes DDSO for the past 30 years as a COTA II. She is the Co-Chair of the SPH committee and is a Lead Trainer for SPH as well as Vehicle Safety (wheelchair securement and lift operation for accessible transportation vehicles). Carmen is also the coordinator for Massage and Alternative Therapies and Faith Initiatives at Finger Lakes.

Plenary Sessions:

Jumping the Hurdles: Overcoming the Obstacles to a Successful SPH Program
Lisa Baum M.A., CSP. Lisa is as an Occupational Health and Safety Representative with the New York State Nurses Association. With 20 years’ experience in the field of occupational health and safety, Ms. Baum is a subject expert on the occupational hazards found in the healthcare setting. Ms. Baum advises safe patient handling committees at healthcare facilities throughout New York State. She has trained hundreds of healthcare workers on best practices for safe patient handling. Ms. Baum chairs the NYS Zero Lift Task Force, she has served on the NYS Commissioner of Health’s Safe Patient Handling Work Group and she was the 2017 recipient of the Zero Lift Task Force’s Safe Patient Handling Advocacy award.

Ann Converso, RN Ann is a registered nurse who worked 35 years at Buffalo VA Medical Center, including 30 years on an acute medical unit attending to patients with COPD, asthma, sarcoidosis, and other respiratory conditions. Also on that unit were 10 long-term ventilator patients. She spent 5 years on an IV Team doing Lab blood draws, PIC line insertion, IV insertion, and more. Ann has been the president of her local bargaining unit representing about 300 RN’s for over 30 years, as well as Vice President and then President of the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO. Currently Ann is working as a healthcare organizer for the Communications Workers of America, Local 1168.

Kelly Moed – Kelly is an ANCC-certified Registered Professional Nurse with over 33 years of experience in hospital-based nursing, including over 20 years as a Nurse Educator. In 2006 Kelly’s graduate degree research utilization project was successfully used as a proposal for Safe Patient Handling (SPH) program implementation at Staten Island University (SIUH)-Northwell Health. Since 2007 Kelly has been the co-chair of the SIUH SPH/Ergonomics Committee and staff coordinator for SPH education and training at SIUH. She is a member of the NYSNA collective bargaining unit at SIUH.
In 2009 Kelly was chosen and trained as a SPH Site Reviewer for the ANA Handle-with-Care Recognition Program. Also in 2009 Kelly joined the New York State Zero Lift Task Force and began working as an SPH consultant hired by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health to present SPH train-the-trainer programs throughout New York State. In 2011 Kelly received the NYS Zero Lift Task Force SPH Advocacy Award. Kelly has lectured nationally and locally on the topic of SPH and in February 2014 became nationally certified as a Safe Patient Handling Professional by the Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals. In 2015 Kelly was selected and became an active member of the NYS Department of Health Safe Patient Handling Workgroup. In 2017 Kelly was invited to be the lead for the SPHM Education Workgroup at the First Annual National SPHM Summit, and she remains an active member of the Universal Safe Patient Handling Coalition/Mobility is Medicine. Currently Kelly maintains her position as a nurse educator at SIIH-Northwell Health, while working as an independent SPHM consultant.

Essential Pieces to Complete the Puzzle for Safe Patient Handling and Movement
Robert Guest- Cert MDT MSPT (Bio is above)
Denise Abbott- (See Bio above)

Confirm that your Organization Has a Comprehensive SPH Training Program
Paula Pless COTA, EES- (See Bio above)

Safe Patient Handling Equipment Control
Melissa Rowland (See Bio Above)
Paula Pless (See bio above)

Check it once, Check it twice – Show me the Money!
Megan Coville (See bio above