A Dallas-based occupational medicine physician who consults with companies on their occupational health programs, Melissa Tonn serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. As part of her work as a Dallas-based medical benefits manager, Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying the impact of social determinants on health.
Non-medical factors, known as social determinants, can have a large impact on people’s health outcomes. For instance, socio-economic status, race, and the environments in which people live, learn, and work have a significant influence on their ability to maintain health. As more policymakers realize that addressing social determinants of health can lead to both improved health outcomes and long-term cost savings, they are adapting some health plans to cover non-medical benefits and starting to move toward a more comprehensive care model.
Currently, nearly 95 percent of healthcare expenditures fund direct medical care, rather than comprehensive programs focused on mitigating the negative impacts of social determinants of health. Researchers estimate that an individual’s social and physical environment make up about 20 percent of their overall health picture, with behavior accounting for another 40-50 percent. Given that health care delivery only impacts health during injury or illness, more attention must be given to the social determinants that impact health on a daily and long-term basis.
After completing occupational medicine residencies at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center, Melissa Tonn assumed the role of president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas. In addition to overseeing occupational injury medical management for employers who opt out of Workers’ Compensation, Melissa Tonn serves as an advisory board member for the New Friends New Life organization.
New Friends New Life seeks to empower survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation while building a movement to stop the abuse. In the Dallas area alone, the illegal sex trade takes in $99 million annually, according to Department of Justice data. New Friends New Life takes the stance that the pornography industry is a gateway to sexual trafficking and exploitation. Since data shows that most pornography is viewed during the daytime, part of the organization’s strategy is building alliances with employers to reduce employees' pornography consumption at work.
To this end, New Friends New Life established an advocacy group focused on reducing men’s pornography consumption called the No Harm Network. The initiative asks businesses to protect women and girls from sex trafficking and exploitation by adopting and enforcing specific policies in the workplace. These policies include controls to deter employees from visiting pornographic websites while working as well as rejecting business expense reimbursement for adult entertainment, such as visiting a strip club. New Friends New Life believes these proactive measures help reduce the demand for sexual exploitation and trafficking of teen girls and women.
The president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas, Texas, Melissa Tonn is board-certified in occupational medicine. The author of many medical publications, Dallas-based occupational medicine manager Melissa Tonn works with companies on disability management and the development of optimal employee health and wellness programs.
Companies can take several steps that will lead to improved employee health in the long-term. Employee wellness programs should promote physical activity and self-care through daily movement breaks and even daily short walks outside. Breaking up the sedentary time spent at a computer can not only improve focus, but also reduce the occurrence of muscular and skeletal disorders. Another idea might be to incorporate a work-out or physical fitness room into the office, where employees can go to stretch, work on tight areas with foam rollers, or even take a brief pause from their desk to do yoga or lift weights.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, companies should also provide good nutrition options to their staff. Instead of donuts or pastries at the conference table, consider ordering from a service that delivers fresh fruit, salads, or other healthy options. Also, make sure to stock the vending machine or snack room with foods like nuts and fruit, rather than cookies and chips, to help employees make healthier choices on a daily basis.
A Dallas-based occupational medicine physician, Dr. Melissa Tonn consults with companies on their occupational health programs as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. Also a fellow of the International Academy of Independent Medical Evaluators, Dallas-based medical benefits manager Dr. Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying how social determinants impact health.
While many people think of health mainly as a current physical condition, a person’s overall health is influenced by a variety of factors in their environment, which are mostly out of their immediate control. Social determinants of health are conditions that contribute to either positive or negative health outcomes for an individual or community.
Examples of social determinants are the extent of someone’s social support network and their level of access to quality education and healthcare. Other social determinants impacting health are a person’s working and living conditions and the availability of community infrastructure to support health and safety. In addition to increasing funding for education and health programs, community leaders can improve public health by also addressing infrastructure needs like safe and reliable transportation, neighborhood security, and convenient access to healthy food and outdoor recreation opportunities.
A distinguished Dallas-area occupational medicine physician and healthcare executive, Melissa Tonn, MD, serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. In addition to her professional work, Dr. Melissa Tonn devotes time and effort to improving conditions for the less fortunate, including by donating to Christ’s Family Clinic in Dallas.
For 16 years, Christ’s Family Clinic (CFC) has provided critical healthcare services to uninsured people of all backgrounds who have nowhere else to go. While many charity clinics only offer urgent care, CFC emphasizes comprehensive, preventive care and ongoing support for chronic ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac conditions.
CFC strives to provide a safety net for Dallas’ working poor who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. Even with the Affordable Care Act, more than 30 million people still lack health insurance, including one in four Texans. Without any federal or state funding, the clinic relies solely on donations to serve those who fall into the insurance gap. Find out more at https://christsfamilyclinic.org.
Board certified in occupational medicine and the author of many medical publications, Dr. Melissa Tonn is the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas. Active in the Dallas community and professional associations, Dr. Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying the social determinants of health.
Various personal, economic, and environmental conditions impact health and well being, and sometimes lead to disease. Researchers recognize that these social determinants not only impact overall health, but also a person's likelihood of injury and subsequent recovery prospects.
People living with negative social determinants, such as exposure to dangerous workplaces, neighborhoods, or schools, are more likely to sustain injuries from falls, fires, burns, vehicle collisions, and domestic or community violence, according to healthypeople.gov, a website run by the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Certain community programs can reduce injury rates related to environmental or social determinants. For instance, municipalities can better design their traffic flow to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and traffic-related injuries. Efforts like home modifications, prescription reviews, and vision screenings can reduce fall injuries among senior citizens. In addition, investments in job training, education, and affordable housing initiatives are key to reducing crime and violence-related injuries.
The president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas, Texas, Melissa Tonn is board-certified in occupational medicine and has authored many medical publications. An active member of professional associations, Melissa Tonn is a diplomate with the American Academy of Pain Management.
In order to effectively combat the opioid epidemic, physicians must help patients address the pervasive effects chronic pain has on their lives. One strategy that has proven successful is self-management training, which educates patients about specific activities, behaviors, and other tactics they can use to minimize the debilitating effects of pain in their daily lives. Although self-management training led by certified trainers is an integral part of care for diabetic patients, the strategy is just starting to be used to support patients with chronic pain.
Chronic pain patients can benefit from acquiring self-management strategies that include self-monitoring compliance with medical treatment and medication regimens, goal-setting, learning to pace their physical activity and cope with the emotional toll of chronic pain, and practicing positive self-reinforcement.
As the chief medical officer and president of OccMD Group P.A. in Dallas, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, oversees a variety of medical services, including occupational-injury management for organizations that have elected to provide an alternative benefit program for work injuries/illnesses. In addition to her role at OccMD, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, is a member of the District 2 Review Committee of the Texas Medical Board and the past vice chair of the Texas Woman’s University (TWU) Board of Regents.
The Frontiers Program: Foster Care Alumni at TWU operates with the goal of increasing the graduation rate among students who have spent time in the foster-care system. Throughout the United States, graduation rates for these students at higher-education institutions hover between 1 and 9 percent. Today, the graduation rate at TWU ranks higher than those at comparable institutions around the country, thanks largely in part to the varied services maintained by the Frontiers Program.
Services include in-depth financial support and guidance and are available to current and prospective students. To learn more about Frontiers Program opportunities, visit www.twu.edu.
A graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, serves Dallas’ OccMD Group P.A. as the president and chief medical officer. Melissa D. Tonn, MD, has served on several boards, including the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents, completing her 7 year tenure as the vice chair.
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) provides a number of services designed to financially support students who have been part of the foster-care system. The Education Training Voucher program is particularly impactful in this regard. Through the initiative, administered by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, individuals can receive grants in a wide range of important areas, from tuition and academic fees to assistance with child care. The program also helps students with transportation needs and significant expenses related to coursework, such as computers.
Additional kinds of financial support available through TWU include assistance in completing Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, scholarships opportunities through the Pioneer Scholarship System, and emergency aid for adults who have aged out of foster care.
In addition to her role as chief medical officer of OccMD Group PA in Dallas, Dr. Melissa Tonn is a faculty member at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches courses in occupational health. Actively involved in medical education over the years, Dr. Melissa Tonn is a longtime supporter of Texas Woman’s University (TWU), where she previously served as vice chair of the board of regents.
In October 2018, TWU announced the appointment of Kimberly Russell, EdD, as its new vice president for university advancement. She will step into the role on December 1, bringing with her more than 20 years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. She comes to the position after a three-year appointment as the chancellor at the Eunice campus of Louisiana State University (LSU).
At LSU, Ms. Russell oversaw enrollment growth of nearly 30 percent at her campus and the expansion of in-demand health care offerings. In her comments, TWU president and chancellor Carine M. Feyten spoke of the vital role that university advancement plays in the overall health of the institution.
Ms. Russell is also a former director of foundation and corporate relations at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, where he was responsible for securing $5 million in grant funding on behalf of several charitable foundations.
An experienced physician, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, specializes in musculoskeletal disorders, workers’ compensation and disability cases, and chronic regional pain syndrome.