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Published on April 15, 2015

St. Vincent’s delivers primary care to Jacksonville, Fla., workplaces

By Catholic Health World

Andy Craig was worn out and didn't know why.

He left his work station in Jacksonville, Fla., and walked into the HealthWorks office. The nurse practitioner administered several tests, including an EKG. She diagnosed Craig with early pneumonia and prescribed treatment.

"I healed up pretty quick," said Craig, 38. "I know I would have held off going to the doctor until I got much worse. This place is very convenient. All I had to do was walk across the parking lot."

Craig is an operations manager in the cold-storage warehouse of Diversified Port Holdings, a company of about 300 people that also operates a cargo terminal in the port of Jacksonville. Once each week, HealthWorks, part of St. Vincent's HealthCare, provides walk-in medical care to Diversified Port Holdings employees at both company locations.

Its medical office is an RV modified as a mobile clinic.

Diversified Port Holdings is the first company to take up St. Vincent's offer to deploy the mobile clinic or put medical offices inside workplaces to care for routine ailments and manage chronic conditions. The mobile clinic is from the health system's fleet of five that tend to patients in rural and low-income areas. HealthWorks is its wellness program for local companies and organizations.

Emma Maurer, system director of HealthWorks, said a nurse practitioner and medical assistant staff the RV in its weekly scheduled stops at the Diversified Port Holdings sites. Each visit to the work site lasts about three hours. Diversified Port Holdings workers don't need appointments to see one of the clinicians. HealthWorks bills Diversified Port Holdings, not its employee health plan, by the hour for time and for specific services, including tests. There are no patient co-pays.

Maurer said a jobsite clinic will give companies a practical and less costly way to promote the health of employees through convenient wellness checkups and ready treatment for routine illness. Employees with chronic conditions requiring monitoring can get their checkups on the HealthWorks RV and be back on the job in 30 minutes.

"The point of this program is being proactive," Maurer said. "In traditional workplace clinics, the emphasis was always 
reactive — you have an accident, you go to the clinic. We are offering to contain costs by catching conditions early and by offering regular consultations that can save lives."

The HealthWorks RV first rolled up to Diversified Port Holdings in August. Maurer said the staff members treat an average of six patients on each visit. HealthWorks staff has diagnosed and are treating conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, and provide general care to walk-in patients.

Kathleen Wentworth, human resources director at Diversified Port Holdings, said the company is pleased that employees are using the service. She said many employees are reluctant to take time off for medical care. Some don't have a primary care provider, Wentworth said, and others just don't like going to a doctor.

The convenience of on-site visits by HealthWorks and the employer's endorsement of primary care implicit in its arrangement with the mobile clinic encourages workers to tend to their health, she said.

For example, Wentworth said, if an employee is supposed to get monthly blood tests for a chronic condition, the HealthWorks staff can do that. "And we are hoping this will encourage them to be better at keeping up on primary care."

Maurer, of HealthWorks, put it this way: "We hope to make it cool to go to preventive care."

HealthWorks and Diversified Port Holdings also are preparing to offer a tobacco-cessation program.

Wentworth said the HealthWorks clinic is not intended for serious workplace injuries or workers' compensation cases. She said the cost of HealthWorks is similar to what it would cost the company insurance plan for similar services, but with two significant benefits — the employees like the convenience and they spend less time away from the job getting care.

"We think more businesses should do this," Wentworth said.

Maurer said St. Vincent's HealthCare is negotiating with several other local employers to provide similar services. It is using a mobile clinic at Diversified Port Holdings, but the main operating model is for permanent on-site offices. She said HealthWorks can set up in a small medical office space and with only about $7,000 in equipment.

"We can do this for not much investment by an employer," she said. "We are demonstrating that we can do this well."

Donnie Romine, interim president and chief executive of St. Vincent's HealthCare, said it is offering HealthWorks as a way for employers to contain health care costs. Romine said HealthWorks can customize its on-site services and provide referrals to its health system.

"Healthy employees mean lower health care costs for companies," Romine said.

Craig, the Diversified Port Holdings supervisor, said he already has noticed that fewer employees are out sick or away for a day for a doctor visit. He said workers have noticed that the HealthWorks RV "isn't just one of those little places where they take your blood pressure.

"This has a waiting room and an exam room and plenty of medical equipment," Craig said. "It's just like going to a real doctor's office."

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