Q&A with Dr. Russell Green
Dr. Russell Green is the founder and driving force behind Work Health Solutions. But did you know he lives on a farm? Or that he is from New Zealand? Learn more about this dynamic leader and where he sees Work Health Solutions in the future.
Q: Why did you want to create Work Health Solutions?
A: Dating to 1990, it became clear to me that family practice, while a very enjoyable pursuit, did not really offer an avenue to people being well or staying well. Given that prevention of problems seem a lot better than treating them, I sought additional university-level training at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. I pursued a diploma in Industrial Health. My wife and I then determined in late 1990 that we would return to the United States. We looked at 15 different communities across the United States and settled on Claremore, Oklahoma.
From that time, I have worked diligently to develop an organization fully dedicated to the care of occupational medicine and specifically the stakeholders involved in the workplace. These stakeholders include primarily the community, but also the worker, their employer and other parties involved in the workplace equation.
Q: Where do you see Work Health Solutions in five years?
A: In five years, I see Work Health Solutions as the premier provider of comprehensive occupational health and medicine services to the seven counties of Tulsa MSA. Currently, we have something like more than 500 companies and workers that we serve. We are becoming known in the region as the organization with the knowledge and ability to address many different problems and issues in the workplace.
Q: In 10 years?
A: I see Work Health Solutions as still the premier organization in occupational health and medicine, but one now more able to address issues statewide and nationally.
Q: What do you want clients to know most about Work Health Solutions?
A: I am most eager for individuals who would seek to be clients or be seen as an individual by Work Health Solutions to consider that the work that we perform is fair and considerate. It is most important to me as an owner, a practitioner and a person to consider all aspects of an individual’s needs — whether it be a preplacement issue, a regulatory issue or a post injury issue. We must do the right thing by all parties involved, and, at the end of it all, we must have been thorough and fair.
Q: You are originally from New Zealand. What do you miss about it?
A: The things that I miss most about New Zealand are the very good friends that I made there, but also I miss the very compact nature of the country. There are so many interesting and fascinating things that can be done in a very small location.
Q: What drew you to the United States?
A: Both my wife and myself were born in the United States. And of the English-speaking countries that we know, we knew America the best. Therefore, when we considered moving from New Zealand, we considered America first.
Q: How does your background and education uniquely equip you for your role at Work Health Solutions?
A: From a very young age, I went with my father on tours of various worksites. He was an electrical engineer, and, from the age of 10, I have seen and toured facilities that manufacture all manners of “stuff.” I have seen jet fighters built, guitars made, instruments and rockets tested. I toured foundries, poultry and pig farms and explosive factories. I remain absolutely intrigued with what people do to bring home a paycheck for their families.
My background initially is that of an electrical engineer. In undergraduate school, I did a double major in electrical engineering and pre-med. I pursued a master’s degree in electrical engineering, which was, in truth, a biomedical degree. I did two years of scientific research in the cardiopulmonary field while performing a lot of chest surgery at the University of Texas in Dallas Southwestern Medical School. Engineering and medicine work well together. Whether it is an issue of prevention or whether it is an issue of treatment, information is important and good information is vital. I believe that engineering has helped me be critical and be a good problem solver. It seems to have slotted in very happily with my work as an occupational physician.
Q: What services of Work Health Solutions do you think best serves your client?
A: The best we can do for a worker and their employer is to make sure that they are able to do the job that they are being hired to do — or able to do the job that they need to return — to put food on their table. The service that I believe best suits our clients and their workers is testing people’s functional abilities.
Given the appropriate opportunity, we can help an individual determine that they are able or not able to perform the essential functions of the job that they want to apply for, that they have applied for or are returning to perform. If we are able to provide those services, the worker wins, the client/company wins and the community wins.
Q: What do you like to do when not working at Work Health Solutions?
When I am not working at Work Health Solutions, I think about the farm I live on and the land that I have been privileged to shepherd. I think about the nearly 40 chickens that we have as well as the horses, cows and goats.
A most recent activity I’ve taken up is wood turning. Over the last four to five years, I have become involved with the Northeastern Oklahoma Wood Turners Association and have become quite active turning a variety of different bowls, vessels and artistic items. I love handling the tools and producing a piece that reflects the beauty of the wood and my abilities as an operator.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: The day starts between 5 and 5:30 a.m. each day and usually also on the weekends. I have animals to feed and an office to get to. I am blessed with two additional practitioners who are able to take some of the load that I have handled over the years. I have two very skilled people who now understand the work that we do at Work Health Solutions and are serving as the next generation. I spend five days a week at work, but sometimes I get to leave a bit early.
I have also the opportunity to meet with client companies and explore possible working relationships. I enjoy the opportunity to do plant or site visits. It is at those site visits that I learn what workers do and how best to serve them when they apply for a position or when they suffer an injury.
The days fly by. I am blessed with a business development person who understands what we do and is growing our business dramatically. I am also privileged in that he is my son!
In addition, I work with another great individual who is the onsite manager. In a sense it is his “fault” that Work Health Solutions got underway. He brought his organization and ours together in what has become Work Health Solutions. He is 100 percent reliable, and he is a hardworking individual whom I am grateful to have met and work with.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family.
A: I am married coming up 46 years. Each year, my contract seems to get renewed. It surprises me sometimes that Jill renews that contract, but we are a good team. We work well, as my mother-in-law said, “in double harness,” and we have pulled together in many different good and difficult circumstances over the years. I have three wonderful children. The eldest is a veterinarian in Tulsa, the middle one works with me and the youngest works with her husband in their architecture business. I have four wonderful grandchildren all of whom live either on the northern end or the southern end of our property. My wife and I feel a little bit like the Kennedys in that our compound is rich in our family.
Q: Why are you so passionate about Work Health Solutions in the role it can play in a client’s life?
A: If questions 1-9 have not answered that question, I do not know how question 10 would begin to explain the passion that I feel for occupational medicine and Work Health Solutions and the role it plays in the community.
All of that said, occupational health and medicine is interested in people doing well, taking home a paycheck and meeting the financial needs they have for their family’s success. If Work Health Solutions can contribute to those successes, then my journey in medicine and my journey in life have been worthwhile.