Health & Wellness Resource Center

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The Health & Wellness Resource Center is designed to help the members of the Fire/EMS Department navigate through the various services provided by the Health & Wellness Office.  The resources shared are meant to provide basic information; however, the office staff is available to assist with detailed information specific to your needs Monday through Friday from 0730 hours to 1600 hours.  For all health and wellness communication, please email Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us to ensure a member of our team will be able to assist you timely.  

The office is located at the Fire Services Building (FSB), 6820 Webster Street, Suite 120, Landover Hills, Maryland 20784.  Our phone number is (301) 583-1951.

Meeting

Services Available to Our Members

The Resiliency Center

The department is committed to ensuring our workforce is supported in all ways possible.  The goal of the Resiliency Center is to guide members through the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or other significant sources of stress because resiliency among first responders is a job requirement.  For many career, civilian, and volunteer members, access to the Employee and Volunteer Assistance Program (EAP/VAP) services is critical to returning to a "pre-crisis" status as quickly as possible.

There are currently three (3) clinicians available to our members. They are Nicole Hester, Demitri Kornegay, and Latif Rasheed.

In addition to the clinical support provided by the department, members have access to a Peer Support Team.  This type of support comes from fellow first responders who know first-hand the types of emotional stress and mental health challenges our members face on a daily basis.  

Physical Fitness Program(s)

Over the years, it's been proven that first responders require a higher level of physical fitness to meet the physical demands of the services they provide to the communities they work.  Physical fitness is also important to the health of the department's civilian members. Therefore, in 2022, the department opened the Fitness & Wellness Center located at 102 Shady Glen Road in Capitol Heights, Maryland.  The center is used to conduct the department's Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) and has a fully equipped gym, as well as classroom-style training and observatory areas.  It is staffed with a personal trainer available to help members meet their physical fitness needs.  Members can schedule time with the personal trainer by clicking here.

Nutrition and Weight Management Program(s)

With the physical demands of the emergency services provided by the department, it is imperative that our members maintain proper nutrition and weight.  One of the leading causes of illness and death for firefighters is heart disease.  There is evidence that connects this chronic and preventable disease to poor nutrition and obesity.  This is why the department is working diligently to develop and execute a comprehensive Nutrition and Weight Management Program for its members.  Stay tuned for more information.

Services Provided by the County

The County's Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) has wellness services that can be accessed by our members by visiting the Wellness On-Demand page.  There, our members will be able to access a wealth of content available including cooking demonstrations, self-care tips, behavioral health information, fitness classes, and more.

Additionally, the County offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through INOVA.  All employees in the County can access this resource 24/7, 365 days per year.  Clinicians are available to triage calls and employees have access to a website with additional resources available to employees.  Please visit the webpage with details on the County's EAP by clicking here.

  1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  2. FML Request Forms
  3. Injury on the Job (IOJ) Forms
  4. Resiliency Center Forms
  5. Other Forms

Below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the support provided by the Health & Wellness Office (HWO). Please take a moment to review the FAQs and contact our office if you need more guidance.

Family Medical Leave (FML)

Q1.    What is Family Medical Leave (FML)?

FML is an employee benefit that provides eligible members with up to 15 work weeks (600 hours) of paid or unpaid leave in a rolling 12-month period for qualifying family and medical reasons.  The County administers FML pursuant to the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Q2.    Who is eligible for FML?

Members who are eligible to earn annual leave, have been employed by the county for 12 months, and have been in a pay status for 1040 hours during the previous 12 months may be eligible for FML.  

Q3.    What can   FML be used for?

An eligible member may be approved for FML for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child and the care of such child up to one year from their birth.
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  • The serious health condition of the employee.
  • The care of a spouse, child, parent, or in-law of the employee who has a serious health condition. 
  • When a military leave request arises out of the foreign deployment of the member’s spouse, child, or parent.
  • To care for a covered military member who has a serious injury or illness if the employee is the military member’s family member or next of kin. Under this circumstance, FML benefit coverage may extend up to 26 workweeks in a single 12-month period.

Q4.    What is considered a serious health condition?

To meet the threshold of a “serious health condition”, one of the following is considered: 

  • A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her position.
  • Conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility.
  • Conditions that incapacitate you or your family member for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication).
  • Chronic conditions.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth.  Prenatal appointments can be covered under FML.

Q5.  How much leave can employees use for the birth of a child?

Eligible members will be granted eighty (80) hours of paid Parental Leave. This leave is inclusive of the 600 hours of earned/accrued leave that can be used to continue compensation while the member is out for childbirth and bonding of their newborn.

Q6.    Are there any restrictions on when an employee can take leave for the birth or adoption of a child?

Leave to bond with a newborn child or a newly placed adopted or foster child must conclude within 12 months after the birth (or placement due to adoption or foster care).  Members are required to follow any applicable department policy on requesting to use intermittent leave to bond with their child under these provisions.

Q7.    Can fathers take leave for a newborn?

Absolutely, mothers and fathers have the same right to take FML to bond with a child under these provisions. A father can also use FML to care for his spouse who is incapacitated due to pregnancy or childbirth.

Q8.    If both parents of a child work for the County and request FML how much FML can be approved?

In accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees that work for the same employer are limited to a combined benefit of leave in a 12-month period.  The County allows up to 15 work weeks (or 600 hours) which must be shared between both parents.

Q9.    Why should I request FML when I have enough leave to cover the time needed for medical reasons?

FML provides job protection for the time members are off for FML-approved reasons.  Additionally, it ensures the continuance of employee benefits if unpaid leave is used.

Q10.    Is the County providing me leave or am I using my leave under FML?

When covered under FML, members will be using their earned/accrued leave to continue compensation.  Should members exhaust their leave, you may qualify to continue compensation using donated leave (please refer to the appropriate collective bargaining agreement (CBA)).  If donations are not available, members can request to be placed on leave without pay (LWOP) during the period approved for FML.

Q11.    How far in advance should employees apply for FML?

Because there are multiple layers of approval, members should apply as soon as they learn there may be a need to utilize FML.  The approval process involves the Health and Wellness Office (HWO) on behalf of the Fire Chief, the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), and the County’s Payroll office.  As such, members should complete the required forms and submit them to HWO as soon as the need presents, but no less than thirty (30) days before the need for the leave if foreseeable.  Please note, the documents are not required to go through the members’ chain of command.

Q12.    I requested to use my compensatory time, annual leave, or another leave type.  Why is my sick leave being used?

In some cases, the need to use FML is needed before the final approval from OHRM is received.  When that happens, Telestaff will reflect an "FMLAPending" pay code.  If that approval is not received before payroll is processed for that pay period, it will be automatically converted to "Sick Leave".  Once the approval is received, HWO will execute a timecard adjustment to change that leave from sick leave to the desired leave type.  This takes approximately 2 pay cycles to occur.

Q13.    What documents are needed to apply for FML?

The documents needed to apply for FML and other resources can be clicking the "FML Request Forms" tab in red at the top of this section.

Q14.    Do I need to send my completed documents through my chain of command for review?

No, completed documents and any accompanying medical information should be forwarded directly to HWO at Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us for processing.  If there is an urgent need for FML and the paperwork is pending, please notify HWO via email.  The office will take the steps needed to ensure notification of the leave is forwarded to the appropriate entities within the department.

Q15.    Will my insurance benefits be covered while I’m on FML?

Eligible members’ group health benefits will be maintained during leave even in cases where unpaid leave, such as Leave Without Pay (LWOP), is being utilized.  You may be required to reimburse the County for the employee contribution toward your benefits when you return to a pay status.

Q16.    Does an eligible member have to use their FML continuously or can it be taken intermittently?

When medically necessary an eligible member may take FML intermittently for a single qualifying reason.  When bonding with a child after birth, adoption, or foster care, either continuous, intermittent, or a combination of both can be taken.

Q17.    Who do I contact to get additional information?

For questions or concerns feel free to reach out to the Health & Wellness Office:

Q18.    How do I know if I am approved for FML after I apply?

Members will receive a Designation Notice via email from HWO regarding the final outcome of the application for FML.  Please allow 2 weeks for the approval process once all of the documents have been received. 

Q19.    Is re-entry required after returning from continuous FML?

In accordance with General Order 4-11 – Re-Entry to Emergency Operations Program (REOP), Fire/EMS sworn members are required to complete the REOP to return to operational status after a non-operational status of more than 90 calendar days.

Q20.    What documents are needed upon returning from continuous FML?

Within five days of return, please contact HWO to confirm your return-to-work date.  You will be expected to submit a current copy of your driver’s license and EMT-P card to the Staffing Office.

Q21.    Will I be returned to my regular shift (A, B, C, or D Shift) when I return to work after continuous FML?

Members returning on the first day of a pay period may be returned to their regular shifts.  Members with a return to work date that falls after the first date of a pay period will be assigned to Day Shift until a new pay period begins.  


Injury on the Job (IOJ) and Disability Leave

Q1.    What should I do if I get injured while working?

Members injured or who become ill due to an exposure on the job should notify their supervisors immediately or within 24 hours.  For guidance on how to properly report the injury, members should refer to General Order (GO) 08-16:  Reporting On-the-Job Injuries found on the department’s webpage (click here).

Q2.    Should I submit an Injury-on-the-Job (IOJ) packet if I am not going to seek medical attention?

Yes.  The injury may not require immediate medical attention; however, it could become problematic at some point after the injury.  To ensure the cost of your medical treatment is covered by the County’s insurance company, timely submission of the claim is critical.

Q3.    Is an IOJ packet required when I experience trauma that impacts my mental health on the job?

Yes.  Members should submit an IOJ packet for any type of work-related illness or injury.  This includes emotional and/or mental stress injuries that members suffer as a result of their job.

Q4.    Where can I find the forms that must be completed when I am injured on the job?

The forms are located here on the Health & Wellness Resource Center page.  Just scroll up, and click on the tab titled "Injury on the Job (IOJ) Forms.  Review the GO to understand which forms require completion based on the member type.

Q5.    What is a recurrence and should I submit an IOJ packet?

When a member injures any location of the body that previously sustained the same injury, that is considered a recurrence.  If this occurs, the member must complete a new IOJ packet for the new date of the injury pursuant to GO 08-16.  The new IOJ packet must be marked as a recurrence for proper processing.

Q6.    What type of leave is used while I am out due to my IOJ?

The County grants the use of Disability Leave to members who are temporarily disabled in the performance of their duties.  When the member’s treating physician releases the member to full duty or the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) determines a member’s fitness for full duty, eligibility for disability leave expires.  Disability Leave must not extend beyond 180 calendar days.  

Note:  Failure to submit an IOJ packet timely injury may negatively impact eligibility for Disability Leave.

Q7.    How should I submit the IOJ packet?

Completed packets (which include signatures from the member and their supervisor) must be submitted to the Health & Wellness Office (HWO) via email at Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us.  Incomplete forms may result in the denial of Disability Leave. The claim will still be submitted to the County’s insurer for processing.

Q8.    What if my injury/illness requires treatment longer than 180 calendar days?

For Career Sworn members, Disability Leave may be extended for up to an additional 240 calendar days upon request and approval by the Fire Chief.  Alternatively, members can request protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  For information on FMLA, please click here.

Q9.    Are there any restrictions that I should be aware of while on Disability Leave?

In accordance with GO 08-16, members are restricted from:

  • Working a part-time job without forfeiting their disability benefits
  • Leaving their residence during normal work hours except for necessary medical services, legal hearings regarding the disability, or in the event of a family emergency.

Members should also monitor their County email and respond to phone calls from the Health & Wellness Office while on Disability Leave.

Q10.    Am I entitled to Disability Leave for my physical therapy and other related appointments after returning to full duty?

No.  When a member is returned to work in a full-duty capacity, the Disability Leave eligibility expires.  Members will be expected to use their own accrued/earned leave to cover time off for medical appointments beyond the expiration.  Members who are returned to work in a light-duty capacity are entitled to up to 4 hours of Disability Leave for related medical appointments or physical therapy.

Q11.    Are Disability Leave compensation and Worker's Compensation the same?              

No, they are not the same.  Disability Leave is a benefit provided by the County and allows for continued compensation while members are on no duty or light duty when they are injured or become ill while performing their job duties.  Worker's Compensation is a benefit from the State's Worker's Compensation Commission (WCC).  For details on the differences, click here.

Q12.     Can I be reimbursed or have my leave reinstated if I use any of my leave to address my on-the-job injury?

In cases where members receive a Worker’s Compensation Commission (WCC) award and want to be retroactively placed on LWOP to draw WCC benefits and have their leave reinstated, they will have 30 days from the date of the initial award of benefits to submit a completed Form 180 to the Departmental Payroll Coordinator for processing.  In this instance, only sick and annual leave can be reinstated.

For more details, please email HWO at Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us.

Q13.    Does the department oversee Worker’s Compensation benefits for my injury/illness that occurred on the job?

No.  Worker’s Compensation benefits are managed by the state of Maryland, not the department.  As such, Disability Leave will not be granted to attend Worker’s Compensation Commission hearings; members must request leave to attend hearings through their chain of command.

For information on Maryland’s Worker’s Compensation Commission and guidance on filing a claim, please visit  www.wcc.state.md.us.

Q14.    Will I return to my regular shift (A, B, C, or D Shifts) when I return full duty from an IOJ no-duty status?

Members returning on the first day of a pay period may be returned to their regular shifts.  Members with a return-to-work date that falls after the first date of a pay period will be assigned to Day Shift until a new pay period begins.  

Q15.    I keep receiving bills for the medical treatment received when I was injured on the job.  What should I do about them?

If you filed an IOJ packet, your claim was assigned a number.  Please send an email to Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us to get your claim number and the address where your medical bills should be sent for payment.

Q16.    If my case is put before the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) for review, am I expected to attend the meeting?

No.  Members are only expected to provide updated medical records for the MAB to review.  Members will receive a letter from HWO when their case will be reviewed by the MAB.  Attendance is not required nor expected.

Q17.    What happens if the MAB recommends I return to work light or full duty and my doctor disagrees?  

When the MAB determines that a member is fit for duty following an injury, members will be expected to report to work in the recommended capacity (light-duty or full-duty).  In the event a member's treating physician recommends that the member remain non-operational, members may request approval for protections under Family Medical Leave (FML) if eligible.    

Q18.    Why is HWO calling me to discuss my injury if I am regularly sending the required documents regarding my injury?

The goal of those calls is to become aware of the progress (or the lack thereof) of the recovery and treatment process.  This is an opportunity for the member to share any challenges they have faced while receiving treatment and share the prognosis of their condition.  It is also an opportunity for HWO to assess if additional support is needed while members are out on Disability Leave. Simply put, they care about the health and well-being of our members. 


Employee and Volunteer Assistance Program (EAP/VAP) and Peer Support


Q1.    What is the Employee/Volunteer Assistance Program (EAP/VAP)?

The EAP/VAP is a department-provided service that offers counseling support for career sworn members, volunteers, and civilians of the Fire Department.  We aim to help ensure a mentally healthy workforce, and that members are psychologically fit to perform their duties.  

Q2.    How do I access EAP/VAP services?

There are two main sources for getting connected: Self-Referral, and Supervisory Referral.  

  1. With a Self-Referral, you just reach out to us (email/phone), and we connect you with an available clinician to begin to discuss your current situation. 
  2. With a Supervisory Referral, your officer may notice something concerning (out-of-character behavior at work, safety issues, etc.), and will send over a referral to the Health and Wellness Office (HWO) to connect with an available clinician.  From there, you will schedule with the provider to address the underlying issue.

Q3.    When should I reach out to EAP/VAP?

Any time you feel you need some extra support! If you feel depressed, anxious, sad, tired, burnt out, or unable to shake a call, you name it, reach out to EAP/VAP for some additional support. 

Q4.    Is there a fee?

There is no fee associated with connecting to EAP/VAP.

Q5.    Are services confidential?

Yes, with some caveats.  

  • First, we must disclose if there are issues of safety, to you, or someone else.  
  • Second, if you approve of us talking to someone (i.e. an outside provider), you may be required to sign a written release of information.  
  • Finally, if referred by a supervisor, we will communicate to your officer about your attendance and safety to perform your work duties. Anything beyond those specific issues will NOT be discussed with the referring supervisor.

Q6.    Is there a limit to how many counseling sessions I can have?

No.  Unlike other EAP services, the EAP/VAP services for the Fire/EMS Department are unlimited.  

Q6.    I voluntarily sought out the EAP/VAP services and it was determined that "time off" would be the best course of action. 

Am I going to be granted Administrative Leave for that?

Not necessarily.  Personnel Procedure 284 - Administration of Employee Leave gives the Fire Chief discretion when he/she believes that the employee's medical condition (including mental health) may impair their ability to perform their duties or jeopardize the health or safety of others, and they are ordered out of operations administrative leave may be granted.  This is not always the case with a self-referral to EAP/VAP.  In other cases, the employee may be required to use sick leave for the "time off" related to EAP/VAP engagement.

Q7.    How will using EAP/VAP affect my job?

Ideally, it will only make your job better! We hope to help you build coping skills to be able to handle the twists and turns that come with this profession. 


Annual Medical Physicals and Fit Tests

 

Q1.     Are both career and volunteer members required to have a medical exam annually?

Career sworn members are required to have a medical examination annually pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the County and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1619, and General Order 08-15: Wellness and Fitness.

Volunteer members are not required to have a medical examination annually; however, they can opt to complete a baseline annual physical to include screenings consistent with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) health screening criteria for cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and hypertension.  By doing so, they may be eligible for certain death benefits for their beneficiaries.

 Q2.     Can I have my own doctor complete my annual physical?

Career sworn members are required to have a medical examination performed by the County’s vendor.  In some cases, there is a need for additional medical evaluations to be completed or documentation from your doctor.  Members will be notified when this is necessary.

Volunteer members choosing to participate in annual physical exams for eligibility for additional death benefits may have their medical examination performed by the County vendor or the member’s primary care physician at the expense of the member, or the member’s insurance.

 Q3.  How do I schedule my physical with the County vendor?

The department uses an application that allows members to schedule their appointments.  It can be accessed by visiting the Fire/EMS Department’s webpage on the County’s website.   The link to the application can be found on the Member Services page (click here).  Appointments can be made as far out as 120 days in advance.  Be sure to provide a good email address when scheduling your appointment to ensure email communication is received.

Every attempt should be made to schedule your appointment outside of your scheduled shift.  If you cannot, you will be given 4 hours to complete the medical examination during your shift.

 Cancellations can be made using the same application as late as 72 hours before the appointment date.

 Q4.    How should I dress for my appointment?

 Members should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and athletic shoes.

 Q5.     What should I do to prepare for the appointment?

Members with known medical conditions should bring documents from their treating physician(s) related to the condition(s).  The documents should not be more than a year old and should identify the medical diagnosis, as well as details about the treatment of those conditions.  Additionally, if the member is taking prescribed medications, a list of those prescriptions should be disclosed at the time of the examination.

The County vendor will need to review your OSHA Medical Evaluation Questionnaire, so please have that completed in preparation for the appointment.  Click here to retrieve the form.

Lastly, members are expected to fast 8 hours before the scheduled appointment in preparation for the blood work that will be performed during the examination.  Being fully hydrated is highly recommended to assist with ease of blood collection and overall well-being.

 Q6.    Why have I been told to schedule an appointment with the cardiologist to take my stress test?

Members will be expected to complete a form upon their arrival at the clinic which will provide some medical background.  If it is determined that a member has conditions that are considered medium to high-risk factors, the clinic cannot perform the stress test.  By Maryland state law, that test is required to be administered by a cardiologist.  Therefore, members with that determination will be advised to schedule their stress test with the cardiologist.

Responses to questions on forms or clinic staff must be accurate and complete.  The goal is to ensure our members are healthy and can perform their duties; it is a matter of safety for everyone involved.  Any member knowingly making false statements or providing misleading information is subject to disciplinary action.

Q7.      How can I retrieve a copy of my results?

The County vendor can forward a copy of the results directly to the members if requested at the time of the appointment.  Alternatively, the Health & Wellness Office will maintain a copy of your results and members can request to pick up a copy by sending an email to Health_Wellness.PGFD@co.pg.md.us.

Q8.     What happens if I do not pass my physical?

When a member is unable to pass the annual physical, the Health & Wellness Office will remove the member from operations.   The member will have 10 days to submit a plan for how they will facilitate the successful completion of the medical examination which includes an assessment from their personal physician.

 There are several things to be considered before the member is returned to operations.   For details, please refer to General Order 08-15: Wellness and Fitness.

 Q9.    Does the department have any resources to help me achieve or maintain optimal physical fitness?

The department has a Fitness & Wellness Center located at 102 Shady Glen Drive in Capitol Heights, Maryland.  The center is equipped with exercise equipment and a personal trainer to guide members through exercises and provide nutritional recommendations to maintain optimal health and fitness.  Members can schedule appointments with the personal trainer or access the gym to exercise during operational hours.

COVID-19 Protocol

The diagram below describes the protocol for members experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or having tested positive with a home rapid test.  In accordance with departmental policy, members should notify the department and obtain a PCR laboratory-confirmed test within 12 hours of this notification.  The Health & Wellness Office (HWO) will provide details for the isolation period, which will begin on the date of the PCR test and will not be delayed while awaiting PCR laboratory results.  The return to work date will be communicated by HWO as well.   

Members who are exposed or concerned with potential exposure should monitor for signs and symptoms and contact the Infection Control Compliance Nurse, Anita Hughes, via email at ALHughes@co.pg.md.us for guidance.  

** The supervisors for civilian members should be included in any email notifications to ensure proper coding of sick leave during the isolation period.

COVID Decision Tree

Health & Wellness Events

The Health & Wellness Office will host several events throughout the year.  Those events will be announced via email to the members.  However, we will share any recorded videos or content after each event to allow access for members who could not attend.

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