School board undecided if clinic is best choice
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The idea of a health clinic for Indian River County School District employees has the minds of the Indian River County School Board spinning, but they need more information before a decision can be made.
The school board, minus board member Carol Johnson, participated in a workshop about starting a health clinic for employees who are covered under the district's insurance plan. The clinic would also be open to families of the employees.
The main goal of considering the clinic is to see cost savings for the district, but what those savings would be are still unclear to the school board.
The next scheduled workshop on the clinic is scheduled for Nov. 6.
CareHere is the company the school district is considering working with to open a clinic. CareHere had a three-year contact with St. Lucie County when they opened a health clinic in 2007.
CareHere did not seek to renew its contract with St. Lucie County after it expired, CareHere officials said.
CareHere's presentation claims the district will see lowered costs because of fewer insurance claims for medical services and reduced prescription costs.
In addition, CareHere's business model includes a medical team that is dedicated to identifying and mitigating future medical issues for the employees.
The clinic would be operated by CareHere and the school district would be billed monthly based on the services that were used during the month, said CareHere officials.
The basic clinic startup costs are estimated to be about $25,000, but that number is a generic estimate, not customized to the needs of Indian River County users, Superintendent Fran Adams said.
School board members agreed that before any decision could be made they needed more financial information to present idea to the community and the employees.
Chairman Jeff Pegler said he was initially strongly behind the idea of the clinic, but in presentations from district staff, attorneys and the clinic company, he has more questions than answers.
For the Nov. 6 meeting, board members asked district staff to come up with more concrete figures on startup costs, monthly expenses and projected cost savings.
Mr. Pegler said he was also concerned that while CareHere would manage the clinic itself, someone in the district would need to have oversight on it, and departments are already stretched extraordinarily thin.
Denise Roberts, executive director of human resources for the district, said a survey was sent to 1,900 benefitted employees of the district. With 1,280 responses, 74 percent said they would take advantage of an on-site medical clinic provided by the district.
For more information about Indian River County school board meetings or agenda items, visit www.indianriverschools.org.