Jan. 16, 2015
By: Megan Erbacher
MOUNT VERNON – The goal of the Metropolitan School District of Mount Vernon was to offer the best health care experience to employees, while keeping it inexpensive, said Loren Evans, the district’s director of business and technology.
After several years of discussion and planning, Wednesday afternoon was the grand opening for the district’s Wellness Clinic — a free primary care services clinic for employees, dependents and retirees covered under the district’s health insurance.
Tri State Community Clinics is the operator of the facility, temporarily located inside the old Hedges Central Elementary School, 716 Locust St., through entrance No. 1.
For now, the clinic is open from 7-11 a.m. Mondays and 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays. There’s also the option to go to Tri State’s Evansville location at U.S. 41 and Mt. Pleasant Road from 7-11 a.m. Fridays.
A licensed practical nurse or family nurse practitioner provide all services, which include primary care services, laboratory services, and basic maintenance and antibiotic prescriptions.
Evans, who also serves as chair of the district’s insurance committee, said while the clinic won’t provide everything an employee may need, it will give them an option for quick and free care.
“It’s a win-win opportunity,” he said. “Employees win when they save money and have convenient, timely access. It’s a win for the employer because we’re able to not only save money on the services we need to provide to employees anyway, but we have the ability to manage people’s health better through the clinic. … That’s an advantage to our employees, but for us as an employer we keep our employees healthier.”
Other local school districts are offering similar health care clinics.
Founded in 2009, Tri State Community Clinics has had 12 clients open health centers, including the Metropolitan School District of North Posey; two locations for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.; the University of Evansville; and businesses such as AmeriQual Foods, Anchor Industries, Inc., and A&A Custom Automation.
In every instance, Tri State Community Clinics Outreach Coordinator Natalie Schmitt said insurance premiums go down for the businesses because the clinics help reduce high claims.
Schmitt said North Posey Superintendent Todd Camp recently noted with a change in district health care and the addition of the clinic, he anticipates no increase in premiums this year — a savings of $170,000 for the district.
“We’re seeing substantial savings in every clinic, in every employer that we work with,” Schmitt said.
The Warrick County School Corp. also offers a health and wellness clinic — in a separate space attached to Castle South Middle School — with QuadMed as the provider. The district plans to open a second location in Boonville in the old Buehler’s Buy-Low.
Schmitt said the clinics cut in-office wait times, as well as the possibility of patients being sent to other locations such as a lab or pharmacy.
“What we do is kind of break that barrier down where we bring all of the services to them under one roof — either on-site at work or across the street,” she said. “In Mount Vernon, it’s about a mile away from the schools. Within 20 minutes you’ve had your appointment, generic medications filled at the clinic and labs drawn. And everything is at no cost to the employee, so long as they are on the employers health insurance.”
At a meeting last September, Mount Vernon board members approved negotiations with Tri State Community Clinics for an on-site health clinic contract.
Last year, Evans said the district switched to a self-funded health insurance plan, which offered the opportunity to interview clinic providers and find a location. Hedges Central was shut down as an elementary school in 2010 and is now rented for school and community organizations. Evans said officials wanted to provide services as soon as possible, so until remodeling is complete, a temporary clinic has been set up in the old nurse’s office at Hedges. The clinic will stay at Hedges, just in a different room with more than 600 square feet of space.
Bids for that construction project are expected to start soon, Evans said, and officials anticipate an opening in late April. The new location will offer extended operating hours.
He estimated about 230 employees, as well as their dependents, could use the facility. Unless it’s a first time visit — which is expected to last about 40 minutes — appointments shouldn’t last longer than 20 minutes. Mount Vernon appointments can be made by calling 812-492-3434.
“We have a commitment to staying on time,” said Lisa Gish, registered nurse and director of Tri State Community Clinic operations. “… We want these patients to have the best medical experience they’ve ever had.”
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