Digging Deeper: Workplace Health Care - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Digging Deeper: Workplace Health Care

Knapheide clinic waiting room Knapheide clinic waiting room
Huddleston on the scale Huddleston on the scale
Hudleston talking to staff at Knapheide Family Wellness Clinic Hudleston talking to staff at Knapheide Family Wellness Clinic
Knapheide Family Wellness Clinic sign Knapheide Family Wellness Clinic sign
Huddleston gets a blood pressure check at the clinic. Huddleston gets a blood pressure check at the clinic.

From schools to businesses, more and more Tri-State employers are opening their own healthcare clinics.

Knapheide Manufacturing opened the Knapheide Family Wellness Center in August 2014.

Fifty-four-year-old Knapheide welder Gene Huddleston admitted he wasn't always good at routinely seeing the doctor. 

"Not very often, only when I was sick," Huddleston said. "And, I only missed one day a year maybe or two tops." 

Huddleston finally went to the doctor for a check up at Knapheide free clinic in 2014, but he still put off the recommended colonoscopy off for several years.
"I did a colonoscopy and then they found out I had colon cancer," Huddleston said. 

Knapheide Vice President of Human Resources Jim Rubottom said the company's success stories don't stop with Huddleston, it also includes his own. 

Rubottom took advantage of the free biometric screening. He was ultimately diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery in 2016.

"If I had not done that I probably would have waited five years, unless something came up that really said I've got a problem," Rubottom said. "Who knows where I would have been five years later versus a year later."

In 2014, Knapheide was the first employer-sponsored healthcare clinic of its kind to open in the Quincy area. Since then, Titan, the City of Quincy, and Hannibal Public Schools have opened facilities. 

Adrian MacGregor, a health sciences adjunct professor at Western Illinois University and administrator at McDonough District Hospital, said one of the driving reasons for the health care trend is cost. Nationwide, employers now face a 15 to 20% yearly increase in employee health care premiums. 

"If we can keep one more employee from getting the flu, having to leave work, for a couple of days, and we actually educate them on how to best manage their own personal health it's a win-win situation," MacGregor said.

MacGregor said the latest data shows employers can slow their annual insurance premium increases through workplace-based healthcare and employees are shown to be healthier and happier.

However, the initial employer cost can be steep, and the data varies on whether companies get a return on their investment in the first several years. 

Rubottom said Knapheide spends $17 to $20 million annually on employee health insurance and while the initial investment was costly, the wellness clinic is beneficial for the company.

"There's a lot of things that can drive your costs that you can't prevent, but definitely we see our trend line going down versus going up," Rubottom said. 

To implement workplace health care, nationwide employers are hiring companies that specifically manage such care, or partnering with existing health care providers in their community.

Blessing Health System is one such local provider that has for several years been partnering with area employers to offer workplace health care.

Blessing's Be Well at Work program includes twelve area employers and serves a combined 2,500 employees and dependents.

Huddleston has returned to the job since having a tumor nearly the size of a baseball removed last February. 

He credits the free clinic with his diagnosis.

"If I didn't go to the clinic and finally listen to Dr. Richardson, what he's been telling me to do, it's hard telling where I would be at," Huddleston said. 

MacGregor said patients of employer-based health care need to make sure their care is coordinated between the employer clinic and their primary care doctor.
"The established primary care provider that the employee may see two, three, four times a year is actually getting real time information from that clinic and they can help co-manage the employee," MacGregor said.

MacGregor said good communication will mean better basic care, the elimination of  redoing services, and keep costs down.

Patients should also ask about financial costs. MacGregor said it's important to know the out-of-pocket cost for any medical care and who is responsible for paying it, the employer or the employee. Some employers do provide discounts for employees that utilize the work-based clinic or participate in preventative screenings.

Many school districts are also opting to provide school-based health care. Hannibal Public Schools was the first local district to open a clinic. Click here for more on Hannibal's school-based clinic.

Quincy Public Schools is currently considering school-based health care for the district. Click here for more on what's being looked at.


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