YVMC to take over Steamboat Springs School District health center | SteamboatToday.com

YVMC to take over Steamboat Springs School District health center

Teresa Ristow

Clinician Milad Shah checks Soda Creek Elementary School custodian Joy Clark's blood pressure at the Steamboat Springs School District's health clinic in 2013. The district is negotiating a contract with YVMC to take over operations of the center.

— The Steamboat Springs School District is negotiating a contract with Yampa Valley Medical Center to take over operations of the district's employee health center.

Opened in 2012 as a way to cut down on insurance costs, the health center was run by North Carolina-based Healthstat Inc. through the most recent school year.

The School Board last week authorized the district to begin negotiations with YVMC to run the center instead.

"We're really excited about this," said Karen McRight, senior director of marketing and business development at YVMC. "We work really hard to keep care local."

While there was discussion about the possibility of a local provider running the center since its inception, McRight said YVMC wasn't prepared to take over operation of a health center until now.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said that since the district opened the health center, employee health clinics have become more common, leading the district to put out a request for proposals this spring to get a sense of what other providers might charge and provide.

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The district received five proposals and ultimately chose YVMC to negotiate a contract with.

YVMC has submitted an initial proposal to run the health center, estimating a $45,000 to $50,000 savings annually.

The district paid Healthstat about $294,000 during the most recent school year to run the health center.

McRight said the proposal includes continuing operations of the center as-is, with an addition of some employee wellness components.

The employee wellness program will be built upon the same philosophies as YVMC’s own program, which has high participation rates, McRight said.

Since opening the health center at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, school administrators estimate the district has saved $1 million to $1.2 million in deferred premiums.

Staff at the health center are able to treat employees and their dependents for a variety of ailments and illnesses, perform minor procedures and prescribe a few dozen of the most common medications staff use.

The services are part of the contract between the district and the provider, and are provided at no cost to staff and their dependents, saving the district costs in claims for office visits and co-pays.

Meeks said the clinic is open 20 hours per week and has about 90 appointments scheduled each month.

“It seems to be working well, and I believe our employees like it,” Meeks said.

Having a local provider running the health center will provide financial benefits to the district as well as benefit employees, McRight said.

"We will be able to help the district save some money, but more than that, you're going to have a local entity that is familiar with the residents that live here," McRight said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow