Posted at: 01/25/2013 10:39 PM
By: Steve Tellier
It's a novel idea that's gaining ground in Minnesota.
Last night, the Stillwater Area Public Schools' board took the next step toward setting up a health clinic inside Stillwater Area High School. It'll be more convenient for faculty and staff, but the district says the bottom line is its bottom line.
It doesn't look like much right now -- just a classroom cluttered with cardboard and construction materials. But the district says one empty room could save it hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I think this another example of how we have to change our approach to things," said superintendent Corey Lunn.
That new approach calls for turning some unused space into an on-site health clinic catering to faculty and staff, located inside the high school. It will house a physician's assistant, who will handle up to three appointments an hour, and will have prescription medications on site.
Lunn said it comes down to dollars and cents.
"We believe this is an innovative and progressive way to control the costs of providing employees these benefits," Lunn said.
The clinic will cost about $106,000 to build. But within a few years, the district predicts the savings in lower health insurance costs could hit $279,000 a year.
"That means many teachers, many computers, many resources for kids," Lunn said.
But it's about cost and convenience, as the health needs of teachers and staff will be met mere feet away.
"I think it's going to be a great addition to our district," said Dennis Bloom, the district's director of operations.
Bloom doesn't even work at the high school, but said he'll still take advantage, as will countless colleagues.
"The healthier they can keep them, the more they're on the job, and the better they feel about the job. So I think it's all a win-win-win," Bloom said.
Construction is expected to start over spring break, and the clinic should be up and running by May.
HealthPartners, the company Stillwater is working with, already has a similar site at the Minneapolis Public School District's new administrative building, and has clinics in the works at three other districts. A competing company, NeoPath, has on-site clinics for staff at five other Minnesota districts.