West Penn Allegheny Health System Expert Addresses the Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis on Pennsylvania’s Work Force

Mary Chester Wasko, MD, MSc, has been selected to represent Pennsylvania’s rheumatologists on a panel discussion concerning the impact of rheumatoid arthritis in the work place.

Dr. Wasko, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), was invited to share her expertise on rheumatoid arthritis treatment and symptom management at the Women’s Health in the Work Place Roundtable discussion on Monday, June 3 at the state capitol in Harrisburg.

The roundtable, hosted by Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, Chair, Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Women’s Health in the Workplace Roundtable is part of the national Women’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Project 2013 (WRAP2013). This WRAP 2013 roundtable discussion will establish a dialogue between advocacy groups and legislators focusing on the critical issue of women’s health in the work place. WRAP2013 is an RA awareness project sponsored by the Business & Professional Women’s Foundation and Women Impacting Public Policy.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating disease that attacks women at a rate three times that of men.

“RA causes incalculable pain for patients and costs the nation billions of dollars in lost productivity as sufferers reduce their hours, retire early or lose their jobs,” Dr. Wasko said.

The panel will discuss policy and practical implications that women’s health and chronic disease have on the work place, innovative initiatives on the part of businesses, medical advances in managing RA and more. Other panelists include Pamela Smith, a patient and President of Women’s Institute & Network, Inc.; Dr. Pamela Hadley, a practicing physician and member of the Governor’s Commission for Women; Jamie Buchenauer, Director of Policy, PA Department of Health; and Lorraine Bock, a nurse practitioner with the PA General Assembly.

Dr. Wasko is active in rheumatoid arthritis research with a focus on the relationship between RA and secondary disorders often associated with it, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She has extensively studied how arthritis medications, exercise, and body composition impact diabetes risk in patients with RA.

Dr. Wasko was awarded the American College of Rheumatology’s Fellow Award and is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She is Associate Editor of Arthritis Care & Research and has published articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Arthritis and Rheumatism, among others. She sees patients with a wide variety of autoimmune disorders in WPAHS’ Lupus Center of Excellence.

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