Robert B. Goldberg, D.O., dean of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM), has received the Dr. Stephen Levin Award from the International Workers’ Compensation Foundation. Dr. Goldberg accepted the award at the recent New York State Workers’ Compensation Centennial Conference in Albany.
The award recognizes a healthcare professional whose contributions significantly support the Workers’ Compensation Board’s goals of providing employees who are injured on the job with effective medical care and covering lost wages until they can work again.
Robert Beloten, chair of the WCB, praised Dr. Goldberg’s dedication and professional accomplishments in supporting the principle goals of the organization. “Dr. Goldberg was chosen as the recipient for the Dr. Stephen Levin Award because of his lifelong commitment to improving the quality of care for injured workers,” Beloten said, adding, “He volunteered countless hours to create medical treatment guidelines that incorporate the scientific rigor necessary to guide medical professionals in caring for those who have been injured on the job.”
Underscoring his commitment to the fundamental principles of the WCB, Dr. Goldberg recalled how a former patient had lost his apartment because he was hurt at work and could not get to a physician. “Without care, he and his family became destitute. The hurdles in front of him were beyond his ability to sort out. I knew then that I had to do everything I could so that injured workers could access medical care quickly, and that the care they receive is the best that medical science has to offer so this would not happen to another family,” Dr. Goldberg said. “This award is a marker to all physicians to work for our patients, to go beyond the limits, and never compromise the principles and practice of medicine that we were taught.”
The award is named for the late Dr. Stephen Levin, a pioneer in the practice of occupational medicine who died in 2007. Dr. Levin was a tireless advocate for workers who became injured or ill as a result of the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11.
Dr. Goldberg also treated 9/11 survivors while working in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and later collaborated with Dr. Levin in negotiating medical coverage for volunteer rescue workers.
“We got everyone to the table,” said Dr. Goldberg in an interview on Albany’s YNN News after receiving the WCB award. He explained his commitment to carrying out Dr. Levin’s legacy, and of the responsibility he feels to employees who are seriously hurt on the job, with anything from carpal tunnel syndrome to bone fractures, dislocations, and skeletal injuries. “When workers—many of whom live paycheck to paycheck—find they can’t go to work, they find it also means they can’t eat, and that their lives are altered beyond their imagination.”
Dr. Goldberg said the role of workers’ compensation is to provide assistance, “from establishing a claim, to getting to see a doctor, to getting benefits, so the injured worker can live life with as little disruption as possible.” Physicians need to understand they are working with a system that has three different perspectives—those of the employer, the physician, and the insurance company, he said, explaining, “To improve the system, we need to get buy-in from each one.”
Dr. Goldberg has been a practicing physician and medical educator for more than 25 years. He is an advisor to the Governor’s Task Force for Workers’ Compensation Reform and has served as president of several renowned medical establishments, including the Organization of State Medical Association Presidents of the American Medical Association and the Medical Society of the State of New York. He repeatedly is listed in the peer-selected “Best Doctors in New York” published by New York Magazine. He has taught at TouroCOM since the school’s inception in 2007 and has served as dean since 2008. A graduate of Rutgers College, Dr. Goldberg earned his medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed residency training at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York City. ϖ