Town of Oro Valley
Courtesy photo

If Oro Valley’s next fiscal budget is approved, the town will implement an on-site health clinic for its employees in the hopes of taking a proactive approach to the health and wellness of the people who work for the town.

Oro Valley Town Manager Greg Caton said the idea to create this option began about three years ago when he heard a city manager speak about how they did a similar thing for their city.

After Caton and the town’s human resources director heard other presentations about a year ago on a similar town’s actions, they thought it was something that the town could definitely benefit from.

“We thought, ‘Wow, this might really work.’ It’s very scalable to your needs. It doesn’t have to be every day of the week, for example,” Caton said.

If all goes to plan, starting next year, the health clinic will be open three days a week and available to not only the town’s employees, but their dependents as well.

The town self-funds the insurance for its employees, paying 100 percent for employees and 80 percent for dependents. The town uses United Health Care, which acts as a third-party administrator, and gives the town employees access to all of the health offices covered by United Health Care. Even though they are covered by an insurance company, the town pays 100 percent of all the claims, which is a little more than $2 million each year.

The hopes of the addition of an on-site health clinic is to offer screenings for such things as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any number of detectable and manageable ailments, along with offering quick and available health care. 

“I think it really fits into the town’s philosophy,” Caton said. “We are very supportive here of prevention.”

With this in place, the town can invest in its 290 employees’ wellness, and their families, before they get ill.

To implement the health clinic, the town has budgeted $122,000. They have budgeted $2.5 million for health benefits, which includes the clinic. The town also expects to be paid about $300,000 for employees paying 20 percent of their dependents’ insurance. Also, employees who do not participate in the screenings will be charged a small fee each month.

Goodyear, Ariz., implemented a health clinic about six years ago, which Oro Valley is modeling after. 

Judi Switanek, who is the volunteer and wellness coordinator for Goodyear, said the town started out by offering its clinic three days a week and slowly added more days until they got to its current number of six days, allowing for people to visit in the mornings, afternoons and weekends. 

Switanek said it runs a lot like a doctors office but is a lot more efficient and easier for its 500 employees to get in and be seen.

“People love it. It’s a great benefit for us. You can get in,” Switanek said. “During the flu season, we had some people that had to wait a day or two. But if they called their regular doctor, they would have said ‘Oh, we can’t get you in for a couple weeks.’”

She also cited it is a good selling point for new employees by telling them they can sign up and see a physician or the physician’s assistant in the same day. The clinic is also completely free to use, saying there are no co-pays or fees.

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