Oro Valley moves forward on town medical clinic

2014-07-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T14:05:08Z Oro Valley moves forward on town medical clinicBy Becky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Oro Valley plans to open a small, on-site health clinic for town staff. The clinic will open in January and serve town employees and their dependents — about 700 people.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

Where will the clinic be located?

In part of a used triple-wide modular building to be installed at Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive, between the library and the development services office.

Besides the clinic, the building also will provide storage for the Friends of the Oro Valley Library and the development services and water departments.

The building will cost $270,000. Most will come from the town’s sizable rainy-day reserves. About $40,000 will come from a Friends donation and library impact fees, and another $40,000 will come from water department reserves.

The Town Council approved the spending last week.

How much will it cost?

Town manager Greg Caton said both the town and the workers will save money.

“This is going to save the town money by driving down and reducing claims costs,” Caton said.

And there won’t be any copays for people covered by the town’s health insurance plan.

The town expects to spend $122,000 a year on a contract with Healthcare Solutions Center to operate the clinic three days a week.

The town dumped its health insurance contract two years ago and went to a self-insured model, which means it pays claims to providers, to the tune of $1.75 million a year. 

The cost of the clinic contract will be less than paying providers elsewhere, Caton said.

“Each time someone visits the clinic it has the potential of saving us hundreds of dollars,” he said.

The self-insurance, a wellness program and the clinic will save money in the long run, council member Mary Snider said at the Council meeting. 

In the first year of self-insurance, the town saved $354,000, Caton said. 

What services will be available?

The clinic will include a waiting room and one exam room.

It will be staffed by a nurse practitioner.

People can get treatment for common problems like ear infections, cold or flu, asthma, diabetes and arthritis. They can also get physical exams and wellness check-ups, help with weight-loss or smoking-cessation plans, and flu shots, among other things.

Has this been done before?

Caton got the idea partly from the city of Goodyear, about 25 miles west of Phoenix.

Goodyear, which is not self-insured, opened its clinic at a fire station in 2008. In that model, workers pay copays to see a nurse practitioner.

The clinic recorded about 4,000 visits last year and users reported a 92 percent approval rating, said Goodyear spokesman Mike Sakal. 

The town’s contract with OnSite Care costs $380,000. A previous contractor, NextCare Urgent Care, told the city it lost money on the deal, Sakal said. In past years the town has seen $400,000 in savings and potentially greater savings in disease prevention, he said.

Caton thinks on-site clinics will be a growing trend for towns and big businesses to manage their health-care costs.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@gmail.com or 573-4251. On Twitter: @BeckyPallack

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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