South Bend Schools' Employee Health Clinic Continuing to Save District Money

By Kim Kilbride

SOUTH BEND — Since its inception in September 2013, South Bend Community School Corp.’s near-site employee health clinic has saved the district money. And, data shows the employees who’ve used it — and participated in routine physical exams and health risk assessments — have become healthier.

The school board heard a report on the clinic, which is run by Activate, at its Monday evening meeting.

Nathan Mowery, president of Activate Indiana, said the clinic — compared with prior years’ spending — saved the self-insured district $3.8 million in claims during its second year. In its first year, $1.9 million was saved.

And data shows "health behavior" scores — having normal cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, for example — rose slightly for clinic visitors in the past year.

As for how patients have rated the Activate clinic, survey results show out of a total of 5 points, those who participated gave the clinic a score of 4.49.

More than 900 patients, on average, visited each month for services — all free to patients — such as physical exams, acute medical care and health coaching, from August 2014 to July 2015. That’s up from an average of 810 a month the prior year.

More prescriptions, which are free to patients, also were doled out during that time, Mowery said.

School board President Jay Caponigro said, “It’s great to see the numbers inching upward. Nice to see ROI (return on investment) coming in where we’d hope to see health care savings.”

Workplace health clinics like South Bend schools’ help reduce and control health care expenses.

The school corporation pays Activate a monthly fee for each of the roughly 4,200 employees and dependents who are eligible. Sixty percent of those people, Mowery said, have used the clinic at least once since it opened.

Looking ahead, Activate officials hope to increase the number of employees who get routine physicals, decrease the number of appointment "no shows" and improve the culture of health in the district by doing things such as recruiting "building champions" at each school who would help spread the message.

Other clinics

• Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. has hired Horton Group to analyze the feasibility of starting a clinic for district employees there. School board President Gary Fox said Monday Horton is expected to formally report its findings to the board sometime this spring.

• School City of Mishawaka closed its clinic several years ago, saying it couldn’t afford the annual cost of $580,000 to operate it.

• The city of South Bend has a clinic for employees. And, the city of Mishawaka opened an employee health clinic last year in a former fire and ambulance station at 333 E. Mishawaka Ave. Like South Bend schools’ clinic, it’s also run by Activate.

• St. Joseph County also has a health clinic that provides services for about 1,300 county employees and their dependents as well as another 400 employees and their dependents from the airport, Clay and Penn township governments, and the Solid Waste Management District.That clinic is operated by Beacon Medical. The county is also hiring a Florida firm to help collect data on patient care in an effort to identify disease trends and ultimately implement prevention programs.

 

This article was originally published by South Bend Tribune, check it out here.

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