Children’s Mercy opens new clinic for employees

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children’s Mercy Hospital cares for thousands of kids, but hasn’t offered care to its 6,500 employees since they’re adults.  Now that’s changing.

In Crown Center, down the hill from the main hospital, Children’s Mercy’s new wellness center is for employees, spouses and partners. Care suites have plush chairs on one side and an exam table and restroom on the other. The center has a pharmacy and space for fitness classes, too.

It’s part of a big trend by employers, especially self-insured ones, to take more control of their health care spending on workers. Children’s Mercy’s estimate?

“Approximately 15 million dollars in savings over the next five years,” said Dan Wright, the hospital’s vice-president of human resources. “And then that does not include any of the productivity.”

He said productivity can increase as it’s more convenient for workers to get care.

Children’s Mercy contracts with Cerner which owns and operates the center and more than 30 others around the country. A Cerner vice-president said the centers are a good tool for employers in recruiting and keeping the best workers.

“It’s a significant benefit to everyone to say you’re gonna have good quality primary care regardless of what access concerns might be existing in the community,” said Mike Heckman of Cerner.

Shortages of primary care doctors nationwide are a real concern as more of the uninsured gain coverage under the health care law and seek care. But there’s another factor that makes the center appealing to Sally Fields, a Children’s Mercy employee.

“It’s a huge cost savings for us to come here. The $10 co-pay is pretty hard to resist,” said Fields.

The co-pay is $10 for urgent and primary care visits, and there is no charge for preventive care.

Wright estimated that 25 percent of employees at the main hospital and in its Crown Center offices will use the center in the first year.

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