News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 11, 2012

Vigo schools health clinic exceeding expectations

Employee tells School Board: The clinic ‘saved my life’

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Now two years old, the Vigo County Schools’ Wellness for Life Center has had more than 12,500 patient visits, saving employees and their families more than $500,000 in co-pays, said Dr. Kayur Patel, chairman of Wellness for Life.

Patel presented a report to the Vigo County School Board on Monday.

The clinic serves school district employees and their family members who are covered by the district’s Anthem insurance plan. The center is independently run by Wellness for Life, and its use is voluntary.

Patel said Wellness for Life “met and exceeded” expectations and initial goals for the first and second year. He said in the first year, the goal was to serve 45 percent of eligible members and by the end of the year, it had reached 60 percent.

For the second year, the goal was 65 percent of eligible members and it achieved 79 percent.

It also has delivered after-hours care to more than 120 patients through phone calls, meeting them at the clinic and even making a house call when needed, Patel said.

In the beginning, the focus was on primary care and getting patients comfortable with the staff, Patel said. Now, one of the goals going forward is to focus on chronic disease management, he said.

Wellness officials say the clinic is helping the district control costs. Anthem health insurance premiums increased just 2 percent this year, officials noted.

Three employees spoke to the benefits of the health and wellness clinic, including Janet Stepter, a secretary at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, who said the clinic “saved my life.”

In one instance, she had chest pains, and tests done through the clinic showed a serious  blockage. She was quickly referred to another doctor and received a stent.

In recent weeks, she developed diverticulitis and credits Wellness for Life with seeing her on a Sunday, and she was then referred to Union Hospital.

Stepter said she takes about 10 pills a day, and thanks to Wellness for Life, only one involves out-of-pocket expenses. “I thank you for the wellness clinic,” she said.

Other employees who talked about their experiences were Brian Sullivan, a teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and Janet Brosmer, a district reading coach.

Sullivan said that through the clinic, he learned that he has hemochromatosis, an iron disorder where the body loads too much iron. He has received treatment and now his iron levels are good, he said.

In other matters, the school board approved the 2013 budget, which now goes to the state Department of Local Government Finance, which makes any necessary adjustments to levels allowed by statute.

The total for all proposed budgets, $143.5 million, is less than 1 percent more than the 2012 approved budget.

• The general fund budget was advertised at $107 million.

• Debt service fund, $8.6 million.

• Capital projects fund, $19.1 million.

• School transportation fund, $6.7 million.

• Bus replacement fund, $2.1 million.

The district continues to maintain a strong cash balance and has adhered to an ongoing cost-conservation plan to preserve educational programs and the employees who provide them, Donna Wilson, chief financial officer, has said.

When the process concludes, “I assume we’ll come out with a pretty consistent tax rate and pretty consistent budget to what is in place for 2012,” Wilson said Monday. She believes the final overall budget could even be somewhat less than this year’s.

“We’re living within our means,” she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.