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        MARCH 2021

The Monthly Exchange is designed specifically for and about the Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-fault division. It includes division accomplishments, health and wellness, and other company news.


Congratulations to 48 OWCA associates
nominated to be an Optum SuperHero

The SuperHero program allows Optum associates to nominate an eligible colleague to be a SuperHero. Optum team members in salary grades 21-28 (or comparable) who were hired before January 1, 2020 are eligible to be nominated. Nominations occurred in late 2020 and recognized individuals who:

  • Positively influence teammates and customers (clients, claimants) through their daily interactions
  • Support Optum’s aspiration to improve experiences and outcomes for those we serve — one person at a time — while helping to reduce the total cost of care
  • Demonstrate our cultural values of integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation and performance
  • Take initiative, display resilience, support innovation and creativity

Nominations are judged by an independent group of Optum leaders, not part of the nominees’ area of the company. Winners are scheduled to be announced in late March 2021 and will receive the SuperHero award, valuable gifts, plus take part in exclusive celebrations.

Congratulations to: 

Adam Lefler
Alicia Brown
Alyssa Bradburn
Andria Glasstetter
Angela Hatter
Barbara Brooke-McNiff
Christie Devitta
Christine Shepard
Christopher Lang
Danyelle Issler
Deborah Bell
Diane Oyler

Elizabeth White
Emily Breig
Erika Johnson
Gideon Dubose
Jane McCann
Jennifer Martin
Jessica Katz
Josephine Irizarry
Juan Soto
Karen Reynard
Kathryn Rough
Katrina Girard

Kelee Parsley
Kelly Williams
Kelly Yambor
Kim Girard
Loretta Walburg
Lorren Byers
Melissa Bernerlyon
Melissa Watts
Michelle Eckels
Penny Zelnik
Refija Dizdarevic
Renata Simelton 

Robbie Pope
Ronnie Fowler
Sabrina Middleton
Savannah Martin
Shannon Lowe
Shaylene Ramirez
Shivakumar Jedhe
Susan Martin
Tara Pena
Teresa Errett
Tiffany Gordon
Venumadhav Guntlapalli


Recent changes to the organization

IT Team

The Optum acquisition of Equian brought new business opportunities and dozens of new associates to OWCA in 2020. After several months of learning about the Equian software applications, OWCA Chief Information Officer Heidi Larson recently announced we’re ready to start integrating the Equian and OWCA IT teams.

“These changes will allow us to better leverage the business and technical expertise of our new colleagues,” said Heidi. “The merger of the two teams will broaden our knowledge and expand our capacity – enabling us to better serve OWCA.”

Background on the Equian acquisition can be found, here.

New SVP, Ancillary Services

Rajesh Bhutani is the new OWCA Senior Vice President of Ancillary Services, reporting to OWCA President and CEO David Young. Rajesh officially joined our team in January and for the past two months has been working closely with David Farmer and the Ancillary team to familiarize himself with our business.

Rajesh has a distinguished background in using metrics, process improvement and automation to transform businesses and achieve set goals. His prior experience includes roles as the Chief Process Officer of an oral health care company and the Head of Global Business Services for a major workers’ compensation organization.

David Young is confident that Rajesh’s background and relentless pursuit of excellence will enhance our Ancillary service delivery model and delight our customers as we grow this important sector of our business. His direct reports will include Jessica Bartell, Eileen Fuentes-Ramallo, Kathy Holland and Craig Roubinek.

David Farmer, former OWCA Chief Financial Officer, has been running the ancillary business during the search for a new ancillary leader but plans to retire on May 7, 2021. During his final months at OWCA, he will continue to work with and support Rajesh and work on other projects as needed.

The Policy Guys podcast launches

Packed with information and some humor, we launched the first Policy Guys podcast featuring the smooth sounds of Kevin Tribout and Adam Fowler. In this first of hopefully many podcasts, the dynamic duo from the OWCA Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs department discussed the impact of COVID-19 on policies and regulations across the country.

The seven minute podcast is posted to the OWCA LinkedIn page and the Policy Matters page on our website. Be sure and check it out! 

Diversity & Inclusion

During March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, an annual observance of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Women have fought for equality for centuries with significant progress made over the last hundred years. That progress is felt throughout our organization and is key to fostering our culture of inclusion and diversity.

To understand how we got to where we are today, it’s important to recognize the women and events that paved the way.  Begin building your knowledge of women’s history by reviewing this timeline, which outlines some of the often omitted, but key moments, in women’s history over the last century. 

Career Corner

Internal networks and mentoring are critical to accelerating your career and can have a big impact on improving your career and your potential to be successful within an organization. Take a proactive role in your career development journey by connecting with other employees across our organization by downloading the Building Peer Networks at UHG guide and start building your network today.

Enter the Monthly Exchange contest and qualify for prize drawing

Congratulations to last month’s Monthly Exchange contest winner, Omar Pearson, who correctly identified the location of “Bernie’s mittens” in the newsletter and whose name was drawn from the correct entries.

This month’s contest is a search and unscramble game. To qualify for the prize, you must figure out the answer.

Here’s the game clueThis three-word adage always applies to customer service.

The 13 letters to be unscrambled for the answer will be located throughout the newsletter in red.

As you read through the newsletter, jot down the red letters, unscramble them to reveal the answer, and send your entries to  All correct entries received within 48 hours from the time we send the newsletter will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be notified through email. Good luck!

Over the next several months, we will celebrate how our employees are “Living Our Values.” We will review a different core value and highlight individuals who have received Bravo recognition for living that value.

A look at Bravo Award winners recognized for the value: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Performance

This month, we will be celebrating PERFORMANCE – the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.

At Optum we believe: The challenges of health care are great. Yet they are matched only by the opportunities. Our purpose to Help People Live Healthier Lives and our role to Make Health Care Work for Everyone can only be met by a demonstrated commitment to and achievement of performance excellence in everything we do.

We value Performance: We are committed to deliver and demonstrate excellence in everything we do.

We behave: We will be accountable and responsible for consistently delivering high quality and superior results that make a difference. We will challenge ourselves to strive for even better outcomes in all key performance areas.

Phil Edwards said this about Carol Haywood

Great job in getting the CIGA eligibility feed updated and in place to reduce the manual work on adjuster updates.  Implementing the project and performing post validation was executed timely and accurately.

Kelly Grant said this about Linda Wrubel

I just wanted to say thank you again for all your help with onboarding Sedettra.  Navigating all the various requests is a challenge and I greatly appreciate your willingness to take this on.  

Robin Sylvester said this about Jodi Caswell

Jodi was instrumental in helping transition the Sedgwick sharepoint site from its' old location (that was being sunset) to the new location. She made sure to ensure that all documents and folders transferred successfully and stayed close to me to make sure it was all completed. Additionally, she was very helpful in guiding me along the way in order to submit a ticket to get all the appropriate users set up with access.  Jodi went above and beyond to help me with this effort and I really appreciate all her help.  

Tron Emptage said this of Kelly Kaufman

Wanted to make sure to thank you for an excellent stewardship with one of our key clients.  Your preparation was evident and your delivery spot-on.  The client was clearly pleased with the work you are doing and the excellence with which you reported on our current relationship.  Nice work!

Lisa Zecca said this of David Vicente

Thank you for your initiative and ownership of the FBCM oversight work for the settlement team.  This support will provide needed flexibility for leadership, and the initiatives/documents you are creating will improve the overall quality and timeliness of the service.  Thank you for being a large part of establishing the standard. Great job. 

Melissa Standback said this of Taketra Reliford

Taketra, thank you for the dedication and focus that you demonstrate in your role. Your contribution to the RDX team and to the company is important and appreciated. I am glad to recognize your efforts in going above and beyond to meet our goals.


Each month a member of OWCA leadership will share on a subject they are passionate about, or something they’ve learned from a book, seminar, podcast, or video, or an experience they’ve had.

CIO Heidi Larson shares how using an agile method called Scrum helps the IT team accomplish a lot more in a lot less time, a framework that can help non-IT teams as well.

To be competitive in today’s fast-paced world, we need to be able to quickly deliver solutions for our clients. Scrum is an ‘agile’ framework commonly used in software development to increase speed to market, reduce wasted effort and increase efficiency. Heidi Larson shares details about this approach from the book, “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland.

Scrum is particularly relevant to OWCA as the entire IT team is moving to this new approach. Approximately 75% of our IT team has already migrated to agile and we plan to train the remaining team members before the end of 2021.

The old way – Waterfall

Technology teams historically used a process called ‘waterfall’ to develop new features/systems. This linear approach requires each phase to be completed before the next phase can start. Further, a Waterfall team spends a great deal of time upfront trying to define all requirements and scope for the project to create a detailed project plan.

The new way – Sprints

Scrum was created more than 20 years ago and is an iterative, team-based approach to development. Rather than trying to plan everything upfront, the business works directly with the development team to start building in short phases called ‘sprints.’ Each project is broken into smaller pieces called ‘stories’ and the team determines which stories will be included at the beginning of each sprint.

Customer feedback loop

When the sprint ends, the team demonstrates the working code they have completed, and the business has an opportunity to quickly make changes or reprioritize future work if business needs have changed. Rather than focusing on planning the work, the team focuses on doing the work and then getting frequent feedback to make sure the team is delivering what will generate the greatest business value.

Since its creation, scrum has been used in a wide range of industries (it’s not just for IT!) and can help teams successfully deliver any complex project.

Heidi Larson, OWCA
Chief Information Officer (CIO)

In the book, the authors explain key tenets that help scrum deliver exceptional results:

  1. Scrum emphasizes the importance of teams. Using small, autonomous, cross-functional teams that work toward a common purpose, organizations can dramatically increase their productivity. Great teams have a purpose that is transcendent (i.e., greater than the individual).
  2. Teams focus on what they can deliver in a regular, set, short period called a sprint. At the end of each sprint, the team demos what they have completed to ensure they have delivered what was requested and to get feedback for future sprints.
  3. Two important principles of scrum are continuous improvement and the elimination of waste. Each sprint, the team focuses on the top priorities, minimizes multi-tasking and half-done projects and does everything possible to get the stories to completion. At the end of each sprint, the team discusses what went well, what could be improved and what they will focus on in the next sprint. Ultimately, the team wants to improve their performance during each sprint.
  4. Rather than creating a comprehensive project plan that may last months or years, teams should focus on planning what is necessary to keep the team busy for the next few sprintsBusiness needs change frequently, so planning too far in the future is potentially a waste of time. This also allows the team flexibility to adjust their plans if an unexpected business need now becomes urgent.
  5. A major difference between scrum and waterfall is the focus on prioritization and incremental deliveryStudies have shown that 80% of the value of a product typically comes from 20% of the features. Rather than trying to deliver every single feature that could possibly be included in a product (as is typical in waterfall), the scrum team focuses on the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) so the product can be launched into the market as quickly as possible. This allows the team to get feedback on the MVP, and potentially saves a lot of wasted effort building features that are not worth the cost of delivery.

Cadillac vs. Pinto
Using a car analogy, don’t build the Cadillac with every bell and whistle. Instead, build the Pinto with minimum features so you can get it out into the market, start getting business value and start getting feedback from customers. In the end, you may find that the Pinto meets the needs of the customer just fine.

Throughout the book, the authors use specific examples from the military, Zappos, SpaceX, Toyota and Amazon to describe how scrum can help technology teams, but this technique is also being used to improve education outcomes, reduce poverty, streamline government, improve operations and benefit many other areas. I encourage all OWCA team members to keep these principles in mind when they are trying to accomplish any complex project . . . when used consistently, these principles can really make a difference and can help us delight our clients.


Lisa Silvestre

Manager, Clinical Operations (Risk Management Nurse Review Services (RMNRS) unit)

Manager, Clinical Operations (Risk Management Nurse Review Services (RMNRS) unit)

Department size:
20 onshore & 21 offshore  

Department head:
Luanne Stark

Customer served:
Internal/external, client/claimant – external client and claimants

Years with Optum:
18 (Initially began my Career at Procura Management which was acquired by Healthcare Solutions, later to be acquired by Catamaran and then Optum under UHG)

A day in the life with Lisa silvestre
Manager, Clinical Operations (Risk Management Nurse Review Services (RMNRS) unit)  

What’s a typical day involve for you?

My day starts with getting my daughter situated with school, rotating between onsite and virtual days. From there, I triage my inbox and ‘to do’ list to organize my day’s goals. My days vary, juggling between supporting our onshore and offshore nursing team who handle Rx Prior Auth; responding to account management, client and clinical liaison requests, and working on internal projects. Rx Prior Auth involves nurses evaluating and rendering decisions on medications for workers’ comp relatedness and medical necessity.

My primary role involves establishing protocols / workflows, answering questions about specific medications / protocols, troubleshooting issues / complaints, analyzing data to identify trends and concerns with workloads and productivity, and quality assurance.

I also work on strategies to improve our customer experience, grow our business, identify opportunities to support our staff growth path, implement new clinical nurse programs, and assist with preparing targeted outcome reporting for stewardships or monthly review.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

Time. The work we do is so diverse and ever-changing each day.  The day passes so fast and we often run out of hours to accomplish our goals for the day. 

What’s the most satisfying part of your role?

The team of experts that I am fortunate enough to work with daily. From the leadership team, to the nurses and admins that surround me, each staff member brings a unique talent to our team that enables us to be successful every day.

What has been your favorite project?

One of my favorite projects has been building the OWCA Rx Prior Auth program from the ground up. I am proud of the trust and confidence that the leadership of Healthcare Solutions (now Optum) had in me to build this program from inception to what it is today. We grew from a small program of $3K per month to $300K/month and expanded it from five states to a national program, which included a build-out protocol to address ExParte rules, utilization review (UR) and non-UR states, and various state regulations.

The Rx Prior Auth program is based on the principle of a live production unit of nurses processing pending medications at point-of-sale following a nurse review for appropriateness of treatment.  Most medications are processed within a one to four hour window from the time the medication has been smart-routed to a nurse. 

What would you like others to know about your role?

My broad experience over the past 18 years at Optum (in Field-Based Case Mgmt., Account Mgmt., Utilization Review, Medicare Set Asides (MSA) and Rx Nurse Review) has helped me tremendously to understand client needs. This experience helps me continue to enhance the Rx Prior Auth program by evolving the workflows/protocols to the changing environment (medically and socially, i.e., Covid) as well as address potential improvements to strategically decrease Rx spend.

What is your favorite part about working here?

The people I work with each day, supporting them to be the best they can be, and the ability to be creative and work independently as a telecommuter in our new normal.

Rapid Fire Questions

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about (aside from work talent)? I am really good at event planning.

What are you looking forward to this year? Returning to traveling, seeing my grandsons in person (they live in Thailand) and announcing, hopefully, my daughter’s recruitment to college for field hockey.

What are you streaming on video now? Discovery of Witches and WandaVision

Who inspires you?  My daughters, Heather (38) and Savannah (16)

What are you proud of?  My daughter Heather achieving her PhD and her role at the United Nations, in Bangkok, Thailand, advocating for women in impoverished countries, while being a mom to two little boys. Also, my youngest daughter Savannah and her ability to maintain a 4.7 GPA, be a member of National Honor Society, and a fierce field hockey athlete, all at the same time.

What was the best concert you ever attended? Garth Brooks in Richmond, VA, (5th row seats)

Where’s your favorite place in the world? The happiest place in the world ― Disneyworld in Orlando, FL.

What’s your favorite movie? Sweet Home Alabama and Leap Year

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Helicopter ride in Las Vegas, riding shot gun with the pilot.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go? Spain or Greece

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Purple

Who is your least favorite superhero? AntMan 


Employees across our division continuously engage in events and social responsibility efforts within their communities.

The following is a highlight of our most recent employee engagement activities. 

Technology team showcases pets and wild animals to raise money for charity

The technology team continues to come up with innovative ideas to raise money. They designated February “Pet Month,” and interested tech team associates donated $2.50 per entry via the UHG matching site to a favorite pet charity. 

They held a pet talent show asking employees to upload two minute or less pet performance videos to their shared site and held an afterhours viewing showcase where participating associates voted on their favorite pet antics. Winners were:

  • Floyd – Kelly Grant’s cat who fetches and retrieves hair bands
  • Luna the jumper and Kai the barker – Joanne Alvarez’s jumping dogs
  • Gizmo – Poppy Baker’s dog adventures

A pet photo contest was also held where participants submitted photos of their dogs, cats, domesticated animals or pictures they’ve taken of wildlife. All IT associates were sent a link to vote on their favorite pictures.

$1551.93 was raised for charity.

Kudos to the following IT associates who participated.  Be sure and check out the photos.

Lisa Ansell
Poppy Baker
Heidi Larson
Fan Zhang Jiang
Stephanie Johnson

Kristi Almeda
Marc Rayburn
Kelly Grant
Bill Prettyman
Christine Shepard

Sam Labanauskas
Deborah Wivo
KellyLee Marrone
Robert Fuchs
Chris Parker

JoAnne Alvarez
Jody Sroga
Michelle Eckel
Kristy Pouchan

Cats:  Our Fabulous Feline Friends

1st Place – Pickles and Pooh

2nd Place – Floyd the Prairie Dog

3rd Place – Luna

Local neighborhood wildlife

1st Place – Bear

2nd Place – Gilbert and Tina

3rd Place – Tie between the Turkey & Squirrel 

Dogs: Our Best Friends

1st Place – Dozer

2nd Place – Rocky 

3rd Place – Another Tie between Bingo & May

OWCA Price, Utah dons their red apparel

To champion national Wear Red Day in support of women’s heart health, on February 5th, Price associates were encouraged to wear red as well as learn more about ways to enhance women’s heart health ― heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.  Price associates were also encouraged to support organizations in their efforts to improve heart health, and several employees donated to the Utah branch of the American Heart Association. 

Westerville steps it up

989.9 miles were logged by 17 Westerville, OH office participants who completed their 15-day Winter Pace Race on February 22.  Congratulations to the top five winners who will be receiving Optum gear of their choice.  

1. Tania Smiley
2. Omar Pearson
3. Emily Breig
4. Stephanie Weimer
5. Amy Bradley


Are You at Risk for a Vitamin Deficiency?

Grabbing a bottle of vitamins from the abundant options available on store shelves could result in taking unnecessary vitamins while neglecting a real vitamin deficiency. Nearly one-third of certain population groups have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. For example:

  • More than 10% of Americans age one and up have a vitamin B6 deficiency 
  • Nearly 10% of women age 12 to 49 have an iron deficiency  
  • 8% of those older than age one are deficient in vitamin D

Curious if you need to fortify your vitamin supply?  Learn four of the nutrients many Americans are not getting enough of, along with deficiency symptoms and food sources to ensure you get the proper vitamins and minerals.

Misleading labels

Did you know that foods with package wording making the product sound healthy such as “sugar free, reduced fat and gluten free” may not be nearly as healthy as you might think? A study found that 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets contain added sugar. In fact, there are 50 different names for sugar on food labels.
Be an ingredient inspector by learning to read nutrition labels. Check out 5 Tips for Reading Nutrition Labels.

Health benefits of
“clean eating”

Clean eating helps with increased energy levels and weight management. It’s a focus on eating wholesome foods in their most natural state. Discover 5 tips to help you get started with clean eating.


Meet Rocky and Skye – Mini Aussies

We are Rocky and Skye, mini Aussies belonging to Savannah Peacock, a team lead out of the Price, Utah office.  We really enjoy managing the wildlife activity in our backyard. We love herding birds and butterflies in the warmer months, and we are best friends with the deer that visit daily. One thing about the deer, they don’t show the same enthusiasm by barking back, but that’s ok because we remind them a few times a day. We are so thankful for living our best life in the rural country. Even though I (Skye) would rather be right next to mom 24/7 in the house.

On January 27th, we turned two. Even though we look completely different in size and color (I’m black and white and Rocky is gray, brown and white) we come from the same litter.  Our mom Savannah got us from a coworker who had puppies for sale in May 2019. She brought Rocky home at nine weeks old, and a month later picked me up when her coworker told her she still had a couple of puppies left from the litter.  Brother and sister back together! 

If you would like to submit a story for Pet of the Month, please send it to

Please note, milestone anniversaries include
1, 5, 10, 15, 20 and each year thereafter. 


Congratulations to ​employees celebrating milestone anniversaries in​ March!

Curstina Moorer (01)
Leslie Neely (01)
Shyvicca McCaster (01)
Carla Jackson (01)
Natasha Lee (01)
Shayla Rainey (01)
Ashley Hodges (01)
Robert Miller (01)
Christa Sweet (01)
Eldina Hukic (01)
David Kraft (01)
Tracy Sorrow (01)
Ameera Phillips (01)
Jeffrey Krasner (01)
Zackery Dekam (01)
Christiana Orness (01)
Jamie Keller (05)
Kathie Soto-Stewart (05)
Melissa Gafencu (05)
Christine Correa (10)
Sarah Reinhart (10)
Tina Peppers (10)
Carolyn Fields (10)
Leandra Piersaul (10)
Laura Gray (10)
Melanie Telfer (10)
Richard Krol (10)
Dale Masten (10)
Jack Inga Rojas (10)
Cam Jacobs (10)
Lori Levasseur (10)
Michelle Raseley (10)
Marcia White (10)
Edna Cabrera (15)
Michelle McFee (15)
Jody Korte (15)
Subha Vippatoori (15)
Shawn Waters (15)
Stephanie Delfino (15)
Roberta Grady (15)
Michael Crislip (15)
Lisa Ansell (15)
Cindy Manzanares (15)
Lane Criddle (15)
Amanda Buckley (20)
Christina Pizzico (21)
Molly Seal (25)
Kathy Glass (30)


We hope you enjoyed this month’s issue. If you have ideas for a story or other comments, please share your feedback by emailing