Health clinic steering committee formed

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Dubois County employees may have a new option for obtaining basic health care in the coming months.

At their meeting Monday, the Dubois County Commissioners continued a discussion about opening a health clinic that would be available for use by county employees. Mark Shrack with Cairnstone Benefits Group, the county’s insurance broker, shared proposals for a clinic from Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center and Activate Healthcare. Activate Healthcare and Cairnstone also presented a joint presentation to the commissioners in July during which it was explained that other local employers are interested in partnering with the county on the clinic.

The commissioners did not make any decisions about offering a health care clinic Monday, but they did select Commissioner Nick Hostetter, Auditor Sandy Morton and Human Resources Director Markie Rhodes to serve on a steering committee with representatives from the other interested employers. The steering committee will be in charge of figuring out what a shared health care clinic could look like.

“I think it’s worth looking at,” Morton said of the idea. “I just hope people will use it.”

Shrack said he didn’t think that would be a problem. Use of Memorial Hospital’s urgent care clinic is common among employees on the county’s health insurance plan, Shrack said, and that’s usually a good indicator that a clinic will be well used. Shrack also said offering clinics especially for employees often ends in lower health care costs and more preventative care if employers can get their employees to use them.

Getting employees into the clinic was a concern for Commissioner Elmer Brames. Both Activate Healthcare and Memorial Hospital had decent proposals for a clinic, but Brames wondered if Memorial might be the better option simply because of its name recognition in the area.

“That Memorial name is familiar to [employees],” Brames said. “They trust Memorial.”

Activate Healthcare, however, seemed to have more experience operating health clinics, leading Hostetter and Commissioners President Chad Blessinger to favor that company over Memorial. However, the commissioners are still in the exploration and discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

The commissioners also talked about the benefits of having a clinic, in general, and wondered if they really needed one. Shrack explained that having a clinic shifts the workplace culture around health care. Clinics are more about wellness and prevention than about treating illness.

Shrack also said statistics show that a lot of blue collar workers don’t have primary care physicians, so clinics can give those people access to primary care and remove boundaries to health care in areas where it’s difficult to get appointments with primary care doctors.

Overall, the commissioners are open to the idea of offering county employees a health care clinic.




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