Kokomo-Center School officials hope to offer an employee health care clinic Oct. 1 at Howard Regional Health System.

Superintendent Chris Himsel said the board will vote on a contract with the hospital and Workplace Health Services LLC to provide a primary care clinic, with services available at no cost to employees, at its June 7 meeting.

Board members toured the clinic site and heard a presentation from Jill Mercer, business development manager for Workplace Health Services, during a work session Thursday.

Himsel said the corporation’s goals in providing the clinic are to create a healthy staff in a manner convenient to them, control future health-care costs and provide options to lower personal health-care costs for employees.

Mercer said estimated savings to the school corporation the first year the clinic operates is $32,192.

Himsel said the clinic will be funded through employee health premiums, not from the general fund. The first-year cost will be $285,500, of which $279,500 will pay for staff.

Himsel said by having healthier staff members, the corporation could save money on substitute teachers, too. He said the corporation currently spends $400,000 to $500,000 per year on substitute teachers to cover classes when teachers are out sick.

She said the plan is for the clinic to be open five days a week, five hours a day. It will be staffed with a physician and a registered nurse. School employees and their family members who are enrolled in the corporation insurance plan will be able to make same-day appointments and see a doctor or registered nurse. There will be no co-pay and some generic prescriptions medications will be given free. The clinic focuses on providing primary and secondary care to reduce costs by catching health issues before they become big problems, and patients end up in the emergency room.

She said in the current economy, employees appreciate being able to go to the doctor without paying a co-pay.

Mercer said employees who have physicians will still be able to go to their physician, and will pay their co-pay to go to their doctor. They may also utilize the clinic, she said, adding that some do so when they cannot get a same-day appointment with their doctor.

She said the clinic hopes to reach out to employees who do not go to the doctor, to reach them before they have big medical problems that cost more to treat. It will provide wellness education, screenings and monitoring of ongoing conditions, as well as physicals, school physicals, annual health screenings, disease management solutions, health education, immunizations, lab services and pharmacy services.

Mercer said planners have not worked out what prescription drugs will be available through the clinic, but that there will be no narcotic drugs in the clinic, for security reasons.

The goals for the first year are to reach those who don’t seek medical help, encourage primary care and prevention instead of emergency room or urgent-care visits and encouraging people to go to a primary care doctor before self-referring to a specialist.

She said before the clinic opens, the corporation will market it to employees. Board member Wayne Luttrell said word-of-mouth may be the best advertisement.

He said when teachers and staff learn they can see a doctor with no wait, no co-pay and free prescriptions, “that’s a pretty good sales pitch right there.”

• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at 765-454-8585 or danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com.

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