Health clinic OK’d for school employees

After a sometimes heated discussion Monday evening, District 51 School Board members voted four to one to approve a proposal by Community Hospital to run a health clinic for people insured by the district.

The proposal would allow District 51 employees and family members to make office visits with Community Hospital-affiliated physicians. Visits to Urgent Care or to Community’s emergency room when Urgent Care is closed would cost $25. Office visits would not carry a co-pay.

The lack of a co-pay for office visits made new board members Jeff Leany and Ann Tisue wary. Tisue said Monday that she worried about the reliability of an estimated 6,000 office visits in the first year. District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said the district would break even on the clinic cost with 10,700 visits in one year.

“My concern is if there are visits that are unnecessary, we could have some financial issues,” Tisue said.

Tisue proposed an amendment that would add a $25 co-pay for office visits, add a pass-through cost for prescription drugs, and automatically stop the clinic system if the district spent more than $500,000 on it in one year. Leany was the only other board member to vote for the amendment and it failed.

Earlier in the meeting, Leany compared opening the clinic without a spending cap to opening a grocery store and proclaiming all the food inside was free. He said he worried the clinic was a reaction to a year of insurance cost increases in 2010-11.

District 51 Risk Manager Sheila Naski said 2010-11 may have been an expensive year for the district’s insurance fund, but so were previous years. Claim totals increased 26 percent in 2008-09 compared to 2007-08 before dropping 5 percent year-over-year in 2009-10, then increasing 19 percent year-over-year in 2010-11. Naski said the district did not ask for proposals because of claim costs in 2010-11 alone, although she said that year did factor into the decision to pursue a clinic.

When Tisue asked Naski if anyone had studied whether there was a possibility of abuse of the clinic, such as employees going to physicians numerous times for minor ailments, Naski said it was possible some people would, but she adamantly defended employees’ integrity.

“I don’t think I need a study to show the people of School District 51 will not abuse it. We’re talking about the people of District 51, not people under the bridge,” Naski said.

Leany cast the lone dissenting vote for the clinic proposal.

Also, the district heard three possible scenarios for the 2012-13 calendar, including two options for a four-day week, and heard from Boulder-based demographer Shannon Bingham, who predicted overcrowded elementary schools in Fruita will need relief in years to come, while elementary schools in the Redlands, in particular Broadway and Scenic, will likely have free space.

Bingham presented three options for alleviating crowding in Fruita. One would send students who live south of Interstate 70 in Fruita, who attended Loma Elementary five years ago and attend Shelledy Elementary now, back to Loma and send students from one or two neighborhoods on the western border between Shelledy and Rim Rock elementary schools from Rim Rock to Shelledy. Another proposal would send south Fruita students to Broadway.

A third proposal suggested filling Broadway by closing Scenic Elementary and sending those students to Broadway and Wingate Elementary.


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