KEARNEY — When Baldwin Filters opened its employee health clinic in June 2013, it aimed to improve employee health and reduce health care costs.
After nearly two years, the Wellness Center is doing all that and more. It is saving lives.
“We have had two employees with chest pains who were having heart attacks. The clinic was able to treat the employees, stabilize them and get them to the hospital,” Bill Musick, vice president of human resources at Baldwin Filters, said. “The clinic’s actions were immeasurable.”
The Wellness Center: A Marathon to Good Health at Baldwin’s facility at 4400 E. U.S. Highway 30 serves Baldwin’s 1,100 employees and their dependents who work in Kearney plus employees from Baldwin’s field sales force and from Baldwin’s Gothenburg and Yankton, S.D., locations when they are visiting Kearney.
In June, Marathon did a first-year review of the clinic. Musick said Baldwin is “tremendously encouraged by our results. We can’t share specific figures, but the Wellness Center certainly is helping the company control health-care costs.”
Baldwin is a worldwide manufacturer of heavy-duty air, lube, fuel, coolant, transmission and hydraulic filtration products.
From Jan. 1-Dec. 31 of 2014, the clinic had 2,998 patient visits from 695 people and performed 668 lab tests. That figure is up from the 500 employees and dependents who used the center in its first seven months, from June through December 2013. Visits are primarily for colds, flu and simple lacerations.
“More people continue to utilize the center,” Musick said. Even better, 54 percent of employees with health issues have become involved in health coaching. They help fellow workers who have the same health problems they do. Also, a team of employees is doing monthly blood pressure checks for workers on all three shifts.
The clinic has inspired Baldwin’s Biggest Loser weight-loss program, now retitled the Hard Work Works program, and more health-related initiatives are underway. Examples are a summer walking program and a family challenge that will bring employees, their spouses and their children into the center for family health coaching sessions.
The clinic also has helped some employees eliminate pop and fast food, reduce their cholesterol and eliminate their need for diabetes medications. Another employee, with the support of the clinic’s health coaches, lost 10 percent of her body weight.
The clinic, run by the Winooski, Vt.-based Marathon Health, was built by Sampson Construction of Lincoln, the general contractor for Baldwin’s massive expansion that will open later this year. The clinic has an outdoor entrance on the west side of the building. Its hours vary so it can serve employees from all three shifts
Its staff includes one physician’s assistant, one registered nurse/health coach and one certified medical assistant.
The physician’s assistant is licensed to treat about 90 percent of what a primary care physician can treat. A collaborating local physician is available to answer questions, consult on complex cases and review the care that the physician’s assistant provides.
“We operate on a simple premise: When employees are healthier, companies reduce health-care costs. The best way to keep people healthy is to prevent them from getting sick in the first place,” Tracey Moran, Marathon’s vice president of marketing, said.
Marathon has 140 sites across the United States at businesses, school districts, hospitals, manufacturing settings and more where it provides primary care or health coaching for any employer or organization with more than 500 employees.
An article on Marathon’s website said that an analysis from Harvard University School of Public Health found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs. “It’s a great service to offer employees. One of the biggest satisfactions is the fact that health care is available at work,” Moran said.
“We selected Marathon Health because of its belief that healthier people are happier and more productive people,” Musick said when the selection was made two years ago. “We developed our Wellness Center to provide our employees and their dependents an alternative for affordable, convenient health care. This reflects our desire to improve employee access to primary and preventive care, and to shift focus from sick care to preventive care.”
One of the critical benefits of locating The Wellness Center at the Baldwin Filters plant is convenience, Musick said.
“Employees don’t have to miss a half day of work to see a doctor,” he said.
The center also provides prescription delivery and lab services. If, after a visit, an employee is given a prescription, the medication can be delivered to the facility. The center can also draw blood, thus saving an employee a trip to a medical lab. If the family doctor recommended the test, an employee can bring in the lab order from his or her physician, get the test done at the center and have the lab results sent to the ordering physician.
The clinic’s focus is wellness and prevention, Moran said. At the core of its approach is helping people become more active and engaged in their own health care.