When Gina Guilliams was recently feeling ill at work, she left her desk to see a nurse practitioner who listened to her complaint and prescribed a remedy – all without leaving the Springs Creative office in Rock Hill where she is the director of human resources.
Springs Creative is one of a growing number of companies that are offering on-site health care. For a textile firm such as Springs Creative, it represents coming full circle. When Springs Industries was the dominant employer in the region it had on-site health care for its work force decades ago.
While today’s on-site health care clinics may have their roots in the past, companies offering on-site clinics are quick to point out that today’s care is not occupational health care. Today’s on-site services include preventive medicine, disease management, wellness programs, physicals, flu shots and other immunizations, and care for minor illnesses. Some of the larger programs even include in-house dental and vision care.
“This is part of our effort to be a best place to work,” said Melinda Narciso, head of human relations for Red Ventures, the trend-setting Internet and marketing firm in Indian Land.
“We need top talent, and you have to provide the benefits and services they desire,” she said. An on-site medical clinic is an extension of what already is in place at Red Ventures – an on-site gourmet cafe, an indoor basketball court, walking/running track, fitness center, locker rooms and a putting green.
Springs Creative, Red Ventures and the city of Rock Hill have contracted with Carolinas HealthCare System for on-site clinics. The Springs Creative clinic has been open for two months, the other two are set to open soon. Nationally more than 1,200 employers have on-site clinics.
Each clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner provided by Carolinas HealthCare System. Each company sets it own hours and decides whether to charge employees for clinic services.
The number of on-site clinics nationally is expected to dramatically grow. A study by Fuld & Co., a Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm, estimated that by 2015 there could by 7,000 on-site clinics. Fuld & Co. estimates 10 percent of the U.S. population under age 65 will have its health-care needs met by employer on-site clinics by 2015.
Managing health care costs was a reason Springs Creative, Red Venture and the city of Rock Hill opted for on-site care.
Springs Creative looked at what was affecting its medical expenses and insurance claims, Guilliams said. Care for diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases has driven up health care costs dramatically. Companies have found that the sooner a chronic disease is diagnosed, the greater the likelihood that long-term disease management costs can be reduced.
Effective on-site healthcare can reduce employers healthcare costs by 10 to 30 percent, according to Fuld & Co. On-site care can also improve worker productivity. Several studies suggest that companies lose as much as 15 percent of productivity daily because of ill employees seeking health care.
The program can also result in employee savings. Services at the city of Rock Hill’s clinic will be offered at no cost to employees and their spouses and children who are covered by the city’s health plan.
“It was a conscious decision for it to be free. We want to encourage employees to go there,” said Gerry Shapiro, an assistant city manager.
How effective on-site clinics are, in part, rests with a company’s culture, said Betsy Hayden, director of Corporate Health & Wellness for Carolinas HealthCare Systems. “You want your health care provider imbedded into your business culture,” she said.
Carolina HealthCare System is a relatively small provider in an expanding industry. It currently has 13 clinics in six counties in North and South Carolina.
What sets Carolina HealthCare System apart, said Hayden and Margaret Forsythe, director of the on-site clinics, is access to the system’s hospitals, doctors and specialists. Each clinic has immediate access to on-line scheduling with CMC doctors, Hayden said.
At a recent health fair at Red Ventures, CMC workers connected 95 employees with a doctor.
“That’s what this is about,” Hayden said, “taking way the barriers to health care and getting people to a doctor.”
Don Worthington 803-329-4066