After his fall, Matt rose to the challenge

Matt, Rick and Lee are proof that when everyone works together, success comes naturally


Matthew Ramsay was a foreman with Chandos Construction for years. November 18, 2018 started as any other day on a northern Alberta construction site. It ended with a fall, a fractured skull and a brain injury. These injuries would mean the end of the story for many, but for Matt it was the beginning of a road to recovery that defies the odds.

Not only did the young father of four survive his fall, but he was back to work within a week. As motivated as he was, intense fatigue made working at his usual pace impossible. This piqued the interest of Matt’s case manager, Lee Lynch.

“Matt’s quick return was highly unusual,” explains Lee. “I thought he might be back too soon, and I decided to dig a little deeper.” Once Lee received the hospital’s medical reporting, the true severity of Matt’s injury became clear. They had a long road ahead—one they would travel together.

Unwilling to accept a permanent injury, Matt’s positive attitude kept him focused on a full recovery

“Immediately after my accident we didn’t understand how bad my injury was,” explains Matt. “I thought I was tired because I had a concussion, but then it all made sense. I had a brain bleed. Still, it didn’t stop me from wanting to get back to work.”

“Until that point, I always felt like I was contributing to my job and to my community. When I got hurt, I lost a piece of that. For the first time in my life I felt like I was taking instead of contributing. I wanted to feel worthy of the resources invested in my recovery. I needed to get better to make it all worthwhile.”

Matt was up to the challenge. “Once I accepted the severity of my injury, I saw recovery as a challenge I was determined to overcome. It would be hard, but I knew I could do it. I refused to accept that modified duties and on-site naps were my new normal. With head injuries like mine, the recovery rate is less than five per cent. I knew I had to be one of those five.”

Construction foreman smiles for the camera

With help from his employer and WCB, Matt Ramsay is back at work doing what he loves.

Workers notice when their employers go above and beyond to support a team member’s recovery

Construction case manager smiles for the camera

Rick Gauvreau is no stranger to claim management and return-to-work planning.

Rick Gauvreau, claims manager with Chandos Construction, is no stranger to claim management and gradual return-to-work planning. With all his experience, Rick knew Matt’s dedication was inspiring and his recovery would be different.

“On many occasions, I felt we needed to pull Matt back,” says Rick. “He was all in, all the time. Sometimes I needed to remind him to pace himself.

“Although my business mind is always paying attention, it’s important employers recognize the human impact is always greater than any financial impact,” explains Rick.

For Matt, it’s a powerful feeling knowing your employer has your back. “I can’t explain how grateful I am to have Rick in my corner. Knowing he supports me makes me want to work even harder to get better. I’m almost there.”

“Employers sometimes leave their claims for WCB to manage. I don’t think that way. I can’t. I’m just as responsible for Matt’s recovery and quality of life—he’s like family.”

– Rick Gauvreau, Chandos Construction claims manager

When everyone works together, success comes naturally

When defining a shared vision of care, workers like Matt are at the centre of their recovery and employers like Chandos Construction and Rick are at the centre of guiding a safe, successful return to work. Workers, employers, case managers and treatment providers work together to develop individual care and return-to-work plans that fit their unique needs.

“There are a lot of pieces at play that made this so successful,” explains Lee. “Matt’s personality, hard-working attitude and genuine desire to get better were crucial. Rick didn’t just sign off on the plan and be done with it. He was engaged and he followed through with daily monitoring and ongoing communication. They put their heads together and volunteered ideas for modified work that Matt could do safely. As a claim owner it’s my job to create space for the conversations that allowed those great ideas to surface.”

“The collaborative conversations between Matt, Rick and I are amongst the best I’ve had. Our ability to be open with each other shows the respect we have for each other and the strength of the relationship we built. It was clear they trusted each other, and they had trust in me, too. We were a dream team.”

– Lee Lynch, case manager

Back to work and back to life

Matt’s energy levels have improved and he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I continue to take it day-by-day, but I didn’t get this far alone. My treatment and recovery plan works, but you always get out what you put in. We put the effort in. I think Rick, Lee and I showed that working together made all the difference. That’s the bottom line.”

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