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Why did the city of Wilmington open an employee health clinic?

Julian March
StarNews

Q. Why did the City of Wilmington have to open an Employee Health Services offices along Shipyard Boulevard? I would think they could be saving money using the hospital or Medac or a contract with one of the local medical clinics. Seems like a duplication of efforts and a cost we should not be incurring within the city budget.

A. The city launched the health clinic in 2006 to accomplish several objectives, said Malissa Talbert, a city spokeswoman.

For one, the city wanted to provide a cost-effective way for employees to access basic healthcare without having to take a lot of time off work, Talbert said. The clinic also fit into the goals of the city’s wellness initiative designed to find ways to maintain or reduce health care costs.

“Having a clinic like this helps reach that goal,” Talbert said. “It’s really to help those employees with preventative care or those employees who have significant health conditions to try to avoid getting into a situation where you’re going to need extensive health care.”

The preventative care can help avoid situations where employees have major health events that keep them out of work for a lengthy period of time. In the 2011-12 fiscal year, 72 percent of clinic visits were related to chronic disease management, according to city records.

The clinic, which is also available to the families of employees, is designed as a standalone operation to help the city adhere to federal healthcare privacy laws, Talbert said.

The city hires a third party company to staff and run the clinic and chooses the company based on a competitive bid process, Talbert said. The city paid $300,000 to operate the clinic in the 2011-12 fiscal year, which Talbert said is the most current information available.

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