Hem v. Wirtjes Concrete, 012121 IWNDC, 19700066.02

Docket Nº19700066.02
Case DateJanuary 21, 2021
BOB HEM, Claimant,
WIRTJES CONCRETE, Employer, Defendant.
No. 19700066.02
Iowa Workers Compensation
Before The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner
January 21, 2021
         Head Note No.: 1803, 2403, 2907          REVIEW-REOPENING DECISION           HEATHER L. PALMER DEPUTY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER          Claimant Bob Hem sustained an injury to his right long finger while working for the defendant, Wirtjes Concrete, on November 16, 2018. Hem filed a petition in arbitration seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Wirtjes Concrete did not file an answer or appearance after being properly served with the petition. Hem filed a motion for entry of default, which was granted. On November 13, 2019, an arbitration decision was issued finding Hem sustained a scheduled member disability of ninety percent to his right long finger and awarding Hem 27 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits at the rate of $238.54 per week, in addition to other relief. The arbitration decision was not appealed and became final agency action.          On April 14, 2020, Hem filed a review-reopening petition, alleging he has developed phantom pain, an industrial disability, warranting additional workers’ compensation benefits. Wirtjes Concrete did not file an answer or appearance after being properly served with the petition. Hem filed a motion for entry of default on May 27, 2020. Wirtjes Concrete did not respond to the motion. A deputy workers’ compensation commissioner granted the motion and requested the matter be scheduled for a hearing for consideration and award of relief as may be warranted by the evidence. Wirtjes Concrete was properly served with the ruling granting the motion for default. The matter was assigned to the undersigned for hearing.          A hearing for consideration and award of relief was held on December 16, 2020. Attorney Edwin Detlie represented Hem. Hem appeared and testified. Exhibits 1 and 2 were admitted into the record. Wirtjes Concrete did not appear at the hearing. The hearing was recorded through digital means pursuant to rule 876 Iowa Administrative Code 4.49. A transcript of the hearing will not be prepared by the agency. If any party wishes to appeal this decision, that party is charged with requesting a copy of the digital audio recording and obtaining a transcript to be prepared and filed by a certified shorthand reporter. The record was left open for the receipt of a post-hearing brief which was filed on December 17, 2020. The brief was received and the record was closed.          FINDINGS OF FACT          In 2018, Hem worked for Wirtjes Concrete as a general laborer on a concrete crew. (Arbitration Decision) Wirtjes Concrete paid Hem $11.00 per hour and he worked between 30 and 35 hours per week. (Arbitration Decision) At the time of the hearing on the review-reopening action Hem was sixty.          Hem has not graduated from high school. (Hem Testimony) Hem attended college and completed coursework for an associate of arts degree, but the school discovered he had not graduated from high school and withdrew his diploma. (Hem Testimony)          Hem informed Wirtjes Concrete he injured his right long finger on November 16, 2018. (Arbitration Decision) Wirtjes Concrete did not provide Hem with any medical care. (Arbitration Decision) Hem continued to work in concrete and his right long finger became infected and badly swollen. Hem reported his finger hurt and it was full of infection and noted physicians had told him he had experienced concrete burn, a poisoning, which caused the infection. (Arbitration Decision)          Hem received treatment through various medical providers, including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (“UIHC”), where he was hospitalized. (Arbitration Decision). Following his discharge from the hospital, Hem received ongoing care from Mark Zacharjasz, M.D., a family medicine physician. (Arbitration Decision) Dr. Zacharjasz assessed Hem with a right finger infection, prescribed antibiotics, and recommended a referral to Iowa Hand. (Arbitration Decision)          On January 2, 2019, Paul Riggs, M.D., a surgeon, examined Hem and diagnosed him with extensor tenosynovitis of the right long finger, an earlier “concrete burn” to the dorsal surface of the distal interphalangeal joint in November 2018, and congestive heart failure. (Arbitration Decision) On January 4, 2019, Dr. Riggs performed an exploratory surgery on Hem’s finger, and prescribed cephalexin. (Arbitration Decision) Dr. Riggs noted a distal interphalangeal joint complete amputation just proximal to the joint may be very helpful in the long term. (Arbitration Decision) Hem continued to treat with Dr. Riggs. (Arbitration Decision)          Dr. Riggs recommended an amputation of Hem’s right long finger. (Arbitration Decision) Hem sought a second opinion from Timothy Fowler, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the UHIC. (Arbitration Decision) Dr. Fowler examined Hem, listed an impression of chronic osteomyelitis in the right long finger distal phalanx and middle phalanx, and recommended amputation through the middle phalanx. (Arbitration...

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