{{featured_button_text}}

YORKVILLE — About 1,800 times last year, a truck driver pulled into Highlands Petro station, got a physical exam during the stopover, and hit the road again.

That will likely happen many more times this year at the Petro Clinic within Highlands, partly because of new federal rules this year for maintaining one’s commercial driver’s license.

Dr. Lynn Biese-Carroll started Petro Clinic at Highlands, 717 S. Sylvania Ave., about two years ago. Biese, a chiropractor, said 90 percent of her drop-in clinic’s business is doing physical exams for CDL holders, a requirement for them to maintain their licenses. Just 10 percent of her business is chiropractic.

Her practice — which is not an urgent-care clinic — is growing fast, Biese said, because of its affordability and convenient location for commercial drivers.

Like a regular driver’s license, CDLs are state-issued. They are for drivers of semitrailers, school buses, dump trucks, septic tank pumpers, delivery trucks, utility trucks and anything weighing at least 26,000 pounds.

Periodic physical exams are required to maintain what drivers call “fed med cards,” their medical clearance to drive with a CDL.

“The best they can get (after an exam) is a two-year card,” Biese explained.

But if they have medical conditions such as diabetes or heart problems — “any condition that would look like they’re at high risk for a ‘sudden incapacitating event,’ ” Biese explained — drivers can be restricted to one-year, six-month or even three-month certificates.

The obvious reason is the U.S. government doesn’t want drivers of multi-ton trucks losing control at the wheel and wreaking roadway carnage.

Biese said the average semitrailer driver is “over 40, overweight and has two or more health

conditions.” Monitoring their health issues is paramount.

A growing business

An exam’s purpose is to determine basic fitness for duty, Biese said. The physical component can be as simple as whether drivers can turn their head fully left and right to see the side mirrors.

The equipment in Biese’s 12-by-12-foot Petro Clinic includes basic exam instruments such as scopes for checking eyes and ears, a blood test analyzer for detecting diabetes from a finger prick, a chiropractic table which doubles as an exam table and a dynamometer for checking grip strength.

Petro Clinic’s driver physicals doubled from 2012 to 2013, Biese said. And her exam business has soared by another 50 to 70 percent so far this year.

Part of the reason, she said, is increased driver awareness of new federal rules affecting how they maintain valid CDLs.

Explaining one rule, Biese said, “Before, drivers just kept (their medical card) in their wallet, and no one knew it was expired unless they got pulled over.”

But now that information will be recorded electronically. Now medical practitioners send an electronic copy of each certificate directly to the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. And drivers no longer need to stand in line at the DMV to turn them in.

A new regulation that took effect Jan. 30 in Wisconsin (states can delay this until next Jan. 30) required all drivers with expired medical certificates to get a physical by that date.

The new rules also merge drivers’ CDLs with their medical certificate, and drivers will carry only their CDL, explained Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration spokesman Duane DeBruyne. If stopped by law enforcement, the CDL will be the gateway to information about a driver’s driving record and medical certificate status.

Coming shortage?

Starting May 21, another big change is that only Department of Transportation-certified medical personnel can do CDL physicals. Biese took the course and exam and is certified.

DeBruyne said his agency confidently expects about 20,000 DOT-certified medical examiners by May 21 and at least 40,000 by two years later.

But Biese predicts many practitioners who are now doing CDL physicals won’t bother with the extra trouble and expense of getting certified.

“Many are not, because they don’t do enough of them,” she said.

“And most will just add it as an ancillary procedure in their practices.”

So, Biese expects a relative shortage of certified examiners.

“It’s excellent for us,” she said.

Petros are owned by TravelCenters of America, one of the three major refueling chains in the industry. It operates 249 TA and Petro Stopping Center stations in 43 states and Canada — but has only 12 with medical clinics that do DOT physicals.

Biese said Petro has asked her to open other clinics like hers. She and some other doctors and investors plan to do that in places such as Dallas, Denver and Gary, Ind. All of those Petro stations are located alongside major Interstate trucking routes.

The idea, Biese said, is to replicate her clinic and “provide DOT exams and services where drivers are — and that’s on the road.”

SIDEBAR

DOT raising priority of catching sleep apnea in commercial truck drivers

MICHAEL BURKE

Register for more free articles.
Stay logged in to skip the surveys.

YORKVILLE — Asleep at the wheel is the last condition the U.S. Department of Transportation wants truck drivers to be in.

So the agency has been making sleep-disorder testing, when drivers have telltale signs, a higher priority.

“The DOT has said we must check for sleep apnea ... must look for the symptoms,” said Dr. Lynn Biese-Carroll, owner-operator of Petro Clinic at Highlands Petro, 717 S. Sylvania Ave.

Medical providers who do physical exams of truck drivers are told to use their best judgment when a sleep test is called for. The standard indicators, which Biese also uses, are an 18-inch neck and body mass index of more than 35, she said.

Last week, Biese started offering a take-home sleep test kit for drivers who get their DOT-required physical exams at Petro Clinic. The apparatus, made by Cleveland Medical Devices in Cleveland, will objectively determine whether someone has a sleep disorder such as apnea — “Or, are these just tired guys?” Biese said.

She will put the strap-on monitoring device on a driver and show him how to hook it up later. The driver will take it home that night or to the sleeper cab in his truck.

No cheating

The home sleep test includes a piece that goes into the nose that night to monitor breathing, a clip that goes on a little finger and an adhesive receptor that Biese sticks on the driver’s chest.

That night, the machine will track eight different functions, Biese said.

The next day, the driver brings the testing kit back to her clinic. She will upload the data which is then analyzed by the sleep-disorder experts at Cleveland Medical.

There’s no cheating with this home test device, Biese said. If the driver detaches the stick-on chest piece, it can’t be stuck back on. She calls that “chain of command.”

The analysis will give the driver either a diagnosis or clearance, Biese explained. If a sleep disorder is shown, the analysis will indicate a home device to correct the disorder, thereby reducing daytime drowsiness. The driver will get a restricted medical certificate, Biese said.

“We must pull the (medical) card in some cases,” she added.

In either case, the doctor reports the type of medical restriction, and reason, to the DOT.

If a medical examiner is given to overlooking the signs of sleep disorders, Biese predicted, “The DOT will start keeping track of doctors with 100 percent ‘passes.’ ”

Petro Clinic prices

$80 — U.S. Department of Transportation-certified physical exam with urine test

$30 — blood test for diabetes

$399 — sleep disorder test, all inclusive

DOT raising priority of catching sleep apnea in commercial truck drivers

YORKVILLE — Asleep at the wheel is the last condition the U.S. Department of Transportation wants truck drivers to be in.

So the agency has been making sleep-disorder testing when drivers have telltale signs a higher priority.

“The DOT has said we must check for sleep apnea ... must look for the symptoms,” said Dr. Lynn Biese-Carroll, owner-operator of Petro Clinic at Highlands Petro, 717 S. Sylvania Ave.

Medical providers who do physical exams of truck drivers are told to use their best judgment when a sleep test is called for. The standard indicators, which Biese also uses, are an 18-inch neck and body mass index of more than 35, she said.

Last week, Biese started offering a take-home sleep test kit for drivers who get their DOT-required physical exams at Petro Clinic. The apparatus, made by Cleveland Medical Devices in Cleveland, will objectively determine whether someone has a sleep disorder such as apnea — “Or, are these just tired guys?” Biese said.

She will put the strap-on monitoring device on a driver and show him how to hook it up later. The driver will take it home that night or to the sleeper cab in his truck.

No cheating

The home sleep test includes a piece that goes into the nose that night to monitor breathing, a clip that goes on a little finger and an adhesive receptor that Biese sticks on the driver’s chest.

That night, the machine will track eight different functions, Biese said.

The next day, the driver brings the testing kit back to her clinic. She will upload the data which is then analyzed by the sleep-disorder experts at Cleveland Medical.

There’s no cheating with this home test device, Biese said. If the driver detaches the stick-on chest piece, it can’t be stuck back on. She calls that “chain of command.”

The analysis will give the driver either a diagnosis or clearance, Biese explained. If a sleep disorder is shown, the analysis will indicate a home device to correct the disorder, thereby reducing daytime drowsiness. The driver will get a restricted medical certificate, Biese said.

“We must pull the (medical) card in some cases,” she added.

In either case, the doctor reports the type of medical restriction, and reason, to the DOT.

If a medical examiner is given to overlooking the signs of sleep disorders, Biese predicted, “The DOT will start keeping track of doctors with 100 percent ‘passes.’ ”

Get the latest local news delivered daily directly to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0

Load comments