Remembering a leader in occupational health

The occupational health community has been shaken by the loss of one of its leaders. Geoff Kelafant, MD, MSPH, FACOEM, 45, died unexpectedly March 16 while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico.

Over the years, Kelafant was a strong voice advocating worker protection with reasoned, evidence-based solutions. He linked scores of clinicians together through his e-mail listserv, sharing his opinions, questions, and acerbic wit.

At Hospital Employee Health, Kelafant was a longtime member of the editorial advisory board and a helpful source of knowledge and advice.

Kelafant was medical director of Occupational Health and Employee Health at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, SC. Previously, he worked as medical director of the Occupational Health Department at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, IL. He also has served as chair of the medical center occupational health section of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and as a consultant for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. He received his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington and completed his occupational medicine residency at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

Kelafant’s leadership in the field will be greatly missed, as will his perspective on controversial issues in occupational health. He often ended his e-mails with a favorite quote from Winston Churchill: ". . . Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on."

Kelafant is survived by his wife, Robyn, and two daughters, Katie, 11 and Casey, 9 of Olanta, SC. Donations may be made to the McLeod Foundation, P.O. Box 100551, Florence, SC 29501 or www.mcleodhealth.org. A scholarship fund also is being set up for his children. We will provide further information in a future issue of HEH as it becomes available.