District 622 contemplates on-site employee health clinic

At a District 622 school board work study session Feb. 12, staff presented a proposed on-site medical clinic through HealthPartners.

Keith Gray, human resources director, explained that when the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District received bids for health insurance coverage in 2009, HealthPartners included $100,000 as part of its "Well@Work" program to construct a clinic for employees and dependents covered by HealthPartners insurance.

The proposed clinic would be built on the first floor of the District Education Center in North St. Paul. The district's current construction estimate is $96,950.

"I know this would be helpful for teachers and staff with children who have to miss days because their clinics don't open until 7 a.m. or later," Gray said, "We could ideally open the clinic at 6 a.m. This way, we cut back on time away from the job and save a bunch of money."

HealthPartners would staff and operate the clinic, but the district would be able to set its preferred hours and interview candidates from a pool of HealthPartners physician's assistants and nurse practitioners.

The clinic would employ one physician's assistant or nurse practitioner at the clinic.

Some of the benefits of having an on-site clinic include disease management, injured worker exams, immunization clinics, employee physicals and reduced cost and time away from the job for random drug testing.

The proposed clinic would only be available for use by District 622 employees, retirees over 65 and employee dependents with HealthPartners health insurance. Some school board members inquired about making the clinic available to students.

Gray explained that opening the clinic to students might be a "phase two" option in the future.

The district currently offers HealthPartners insurance to employees and their dependents, covering approximately 1,200 employees and 1,300 dependents.

If the district decides to build the proposed clinic by July 1, HealthPartners has added the incentive of lowering the district's insurance premium by 1 percent.

"HealthPartners is really trying to help us lower our utilization. Having a clinic available and on-site will help an organization like us lower the cost and amount of healthcare people utilize," Gray said in a later interview.

In January, Stillwater Area Public Schools approved a similar HealthPartners "Well@Work" clinic at Stillwater Area High School. Construction will be completed in May. Stillwater school officials expect the clinic to save their district about $260,000 in medical claims by 2015.

District 622's proposed clinic is tentatively on the agenda to be discussed at the next school board meeting Feb. 26.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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