In a job where health care employees’ main focus is on the health and safety of their patients – their own well-being might slip to the back of their minds.
College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS) alumnus Josiah Roldan is working to ensure that doesn’t happen.
After earning a PhD in Public Health with a focus on Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (now called Environmental and Occupational Health), Josiah recently started his new position as safety and emergency preparedness program manager for Oregon State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital.
“I realized at an early age that I genuinely cared about the well-being of people,” Josiah says. “The public health career field allowed me to follow my passion.”
Growing up in the Philippines, Josiah and his family immigrated to the United States in California when he was 8. He later moved to Oregon with his wife and three kids to pursue safety and emergency management.
“I realized at an early age that I genuinely cared about the well-being of people. The public health career field allowed me to follow my passion.”
“My education at the CPHHS prepared me by understanding advanced theoretical principles in occupational and environmental health and safety, and applying the theoretical principles in research projects in my course work,” he says. “When I started my new position with Oregon State Hospital, it was a seamless transition when applying the same theoretical principles in developing a comprehensive safety and health program.”
Josiah’s role in his new position is to develop and manage safety and emergency preparedness programs for more than 2,000 employees and 700 patients at Portland, Salem and soon-to-be Junction City campuses. Part of his work is to address musculoskeletal injuries, most of which he says are caused by improper lifting or moving of patients.
“The programs also ensure compliance with federal and state regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – or OSHA, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Joint Commission,” he says.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, workers in the health care industry experience the highest number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses.
Working on a safety and emergency preparedness team consisting of six full-time staff, Josiah says his goal is to bring safety to the forefront in all hospital operations and to cultivate a culture of safety that recognizes that employees excel in their jobs when the hospital values their safety.
“In terms of emergency management, my goal is to strengthen the hospital’s resiliency through mitigation and preparedness activities including staff training, exercises and community partnership in an all-hazards environment,” he says.
Josiah says what he enjoys most about his job is developing long-lasting collaborative relationships with employees with their safety and health as a common goal.
“By developing a robust and employee-centered safety program and providing a safe working environment at Oregon State Hospital, we’re able to reduce the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses to health care workers.”
“My advice for current and future students is to find out what they are passionate about in life and to pursue that passion. OSU provides the perfect environment that allows students to pursue their passion.”
In addition to his new position at Oregon State Hospital, Josiah has been commissioned in the Oregon Air National Guard as a public health officer with its CERFP Unit – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package. His responsibility is to provide recommendations to the incident commander on how best to mitigate the impact of CBRNE events on the affected population and ensure public health.
“It’s also in this position that I apply many of the emergency management principles,” he says.
Beaming with Beaver pride, Josiah currently teaches a course on occupational safety and health in the CPHHS and hopes to host interns interested in emergency management and/or occupational safety from the college’s Environmental and Occupational Health track at Oregon State Hospital.
“There’s limited internship opportunities in safety and emergency management, and I personally feel that internships provide valuable experience that allows students to apply classroom knowledge to a work environment,” he says. “I have a personal obligation to train future public health practitioners in safety and health, and I feel Oregon State Hospital provides the perfect environment to accomplish this.
“My advice for current and future students is to find out what they are passionate about in life and to pursue that passion,” he says. “OSU provides the perfect environment that allows students to pursue their passion.”