Q and A with Michael Fitch, D.O.: Occupational Health Physician
By Kaley Johnson
Michael Fitch, D.O., started as Cook Children’s new Occupational Health Physician in July. We sat down to talk about his background in the Navy, North Texas roots and how he’s settling in at Cook Children’s.
Dr. Fitch grew up in Flower Mound and attended Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center for medical school. In 2012, he joined the Navy and became a medical officer with the Marines. He worked with refineries, mines and city workers in Billings, Mont. before making his way back to Dallas-Fort Worth.
What is occupational medicine?
It’s under the preventive medicines, it’s kind of public health preventive medicine. And the goal is you focus on employees because a lot of times they don’t necessarily seek out medical care. But during their time is when we can actually provide better help to them by creating a healthy environment.
What are some of your main responsibilities?
We look at the hazards of their jobs and do PPE. We worry about infectious diseases. If an injured employee comes in, we take care of them. We do surveillance to make sure people don’t have tuberculosis, that’s the main infectious disease. Our clinic makes sure employees are up to date on vaccines, like the flu shot. There’s meeting policy, administration-type stuff.
What do you like about Occupational Health?
With family medicine or pediatrics, you see one patient at a time and that’s how you improve healthcare. We can kind of improve healthcare administratively. We look at lighting, construction, air control, that kind of thing. If you can do that, you can impact thousands - like we have almost 10,000 at Cook Children’s.
How was the transition into the role?
Our head nurses, Bridget Page, Occupational Health Director and Karen Mahoney, Occupational Health Manager, have been in Occupational Health for 10-plus years themselves and all our nurses are pretty experienced. Everything was really well run prior to me coming.
What do you like about the role so far?
Our staff out here, the clinic and interacting with all our workers here.
What do you like about Cook Children’s so far?
There is a high culture of safety at Cook Children’s. There’s a lot of investment into employees’ safety, even behind the scenes. Sometimes there is a tug-of-war between safety and senior management, but that’s not the case here. Everyone is safety-minded here.