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A former storage building at Brown County Schools’ athletic fields will reopen as a community medical clinic Jan. 23.

All people — whether they’re associated with the school district or not — will be able to use the services at Brown County Health and Wellness Center through a membership arrangement, Brown County Schools Superintendent Laura Hammack said.

School district employees will have access to the clinic through their medical coverage, while the general public can pay for a membership to the clinic in what’s known as the direct-primary care model. Memberships are month to month and can be canceled at any time.

“That would mean, just like for our own employees, same-day visits, having the ability to access the pharmacy as well as labs,” Hammack said. “There is no co-pay, because that’s all a part of that monthly fee that would be paid for you to be a member.”

About 100 commonly prescribed medications also will be offered to clinic members at no additional cost.

“If you needed something special, there would be a charge, but at their wholesale costs,” Hammack said.

Wellness for Life is operating the clinic. The company is not associated with Columbus Regional Health or IU Health, which operate the two existing family practice doctor’s offices in Nashville.

To start, the clinic will be open on Tuesdays 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If the clinic picked up 100 new clients from the community, another day of service could be opened up, said Rodney Clark, an account executive for Wellness for Life.

The company is working this month to encourage community members to sign up and inform school staff of this new option.

“They (school employees) will always be able to access other options, because we did not want to take away the right of an individual to choose their own health care,” Hammack said. “If it’s under our plan currently, they are still able to receive the benefits that are under their plan.”

Wellness for Life staff will be at Brown County High School on Monday, Jan. 29. Appointments will also be set up during that event for people who want to learn more about the clinic and its memberships.

“Many of the conversations I’ve had with local business owners and then some of our local government, I think folks are really getting the idea and appreciating what this possibility could be. I think they need to see it to really understand and connect the dots,” Hammack said.

For instance, local businesses could purchase or help to pay for memberships for employees, she said.

“For local businesses that are looking for a way to provide coverage to employees that might be on a part-time basis, this could be a really neat way,” Hammack said.

“That doesn’t mean they’re picking up any sort of long-term health care costs. They’re just paying for this direct-primary care model.”

Remodeling work on the Eagle Park building has been going on since fall. The estimated construction and startup costs, including purchasing supplies, will be $120,000 to $125,000, and those will be paid for with part of a $2 million bond the district has, Hammack said.

Longtime need

One of the reasons the school district picked Wellness for Life to run this clinic is because it offered the direct-primary care model for the community, Hammack said.

Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare has been working to establish a clinic in Brown County for close to a decade.

“It’s just what we’ve been waiting for for eight years,” said Bill Todd with Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare. “Eight years we’ve been working towards this. Because of Dr. Hammack, we found an organization that will not only work with the schools, but with the community. That’s just exciting.”

Todd began discussing health care locally when former President Barack Obama was working to get health care legislation passed.

“Out of the blue, I put in a notice in (the) paper saying, ‘Let’s sit down and talk about health care in our community and what people think about it,’ because it was such an overwhelming topic for everybody in the country,” Todd said.

About 35 people showed up at that first meeting. “It was a fabulous meeting because people did come and they shared their concerns. They shared the fact that, ‘I have a daughter who has this kind of illness and we don’t know what to do.’ ‘I’ve had this kind of bankruptcy go on.’ It was just the overwhelming desire to see something new and different in healthcare,” Todd said.

At that time, the county still had a free, local government-run clinic.

The point of the meeting was to get an overall look at where the community wanted to go with health care.

The group conducted public forums, met with government officials and had a group of Indiana University graduate students do a study on health care needs in the county and strategies to fill the need.

After the county’s free clinic closed, in March 2014, Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare presented county government with a health clinic model similar to Wellness for Life’s. It would have reduced the health care costs of the county’s largest employers and handled the medical matters of low-income families and people on Medicaid and Medicare.

That proposal didn’t move forward. Brown County Council President Dave Critser and Brown County Commissioners President Dave Anderson said in September that they didn’t remember why.

Todd said that model didn’t have enough collaborative effort between the county government and the school district to make it work.

Not long after Hammack was hired as superintendent, R.E. Sutton & Associates, the district’s health insurance benefit adviser, met with Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare to talk about their clinic plan.

“They have just been very supportive of what our intentions have been,” Todd said.

The clinic isn’t meant to be a critical care facility, but rather a wellness clinic, Todd said.

“That’s what’s exciting about it,” he said. For instance, if a child has an asthma attack, the hope is that he can work with the clinic to keep the asthma under control so he doesn’t have another attack.

Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare recently became a 501c3. Todd said their goal is to set up a fund to sponsor residents who can’t afford the monthly membership fee.

“The reality is that even at $50 or $60 a month, there are still some people that just are going to have trouble paying that,” Todd said. “It’s our hope that we could facilitate, as a nonprofit, an interest by concerned people that we could help enroll people and pay for part of their membership.”

The goal would be to have people pay as much as they can. “What we want is to say, ‘No questions asked.’ If you can pay a dollar, three dollars, but otherwise we’ll make up the difference,’” he said.

Quick and close

The Brown County Health & Wellness Center will have one nurse practitioner at the clinic Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a physician available for consultation on site depending on the need, Hammack said.

Patients can walk in to be seen, but there will be a wait. Hammack said it will be best to call ahead to make an appointment. Still, the average wait time is estimated at only about 5 minutes.

Same-day appointments will allow teachers and staff to plan their days better and possibly avoid hiring a substitute to cover the entire school day, Hammack said.

“One of the real frustrations for folks who have worked in the district is that if they are or if their family member is needing to access any kind of health services, they’ve often need to take, sometimes, an entire work day off just to be able to go and access those services,” she said.

On-site labs and a pharmacy are also appealing, Hammack said.

“We are hearing from our team members that access to labs is really challenging. Some folks need labs on a really frequent basis, so for them to have to go offsite somewhere out of the county is just a real burden.”

Wellness for Life will bill the school district each month based on hours worked and supplies needed to run the clinic.

We own everything. Even though Wellness for Life is administering it … they are our things,” Hammack said.

Funding for the clinic will come from the same fund used to pay health insurance.

“We effectively pay for the clinic through premium costs, so what the employees pay in their premiums, which haven’t changed, those dollars fund the proceedings of the clinic,” Hammack said.

“The value you save by folks accessing the clinic allows for you to save more in the long-run, because you are running your own clinic, and if you are running your own situation you can control those costs.”

She said that emergency care centers often will charge extra costs for their service.

“We are not putting that extra cost onto our consumer. … It’s a really interesting model because then, ultimately, your costs are drastically cut because you’re not paying these extra fees for each employee,” Hammack said.

She said Wellness for Life and R.E. Sutton & Associates have provided evidence that people pay lower premiums as a result of adding a clinic.

“What we really want to have happen, then, is that we want that clinic to be open every day of the week. If you’re sick on a Monday, you want to see a doctor on Monday and not wait until Tuesday when our clinic is open,” Hammack said.

“We recognize that we’re not going to realize the full value of having a clinic until we can have more hours for it to be open.”

To do that, the clinic will need more buy-in from the community, including residents and businesses. Clark said the clinic would need an additional 300 patients to be open five days a week.

“It’s why we named it how we’ve named it,” Hammack said. “We want this to the Brown County Health & Wellness Center, because we want this clinic to positively impact the health and wellness of our community.”

Clinic services

To learn more about medications and labs covered under a membership with Brown County Health & Wellness Center visit dpcindiana.com.

Standard clinic services for Wellness for Life include:

  • non-life threatening urgent care;
  • pediatric care;
  • adult medicine and wellness;
  • chronic disease management, like high blood pressure and diabetes;
  • preventative care;
  • sports medicine; and
  • on-site labs and pharmacy.

Additional services at no cost to patients include wound repair, including stitches and surgical glue; minor procedures like skin tag or wart removals; all physicals for sports, school and work; 24-7 phone, email and text access to providers; EKGs; pulmonary function testing; unlimited and same-day appointments; and wholesale rates on labs and medications.

SOURCE: Wellness for Life

Monthly membership fees

School employees and their families will not have to pay an extra fee for Wellness for Life services at the new clinic.

Other community members can access services for a monthly fee: $65 for adults, $35 for children younger than 18, $120 for a couple, or $150 for a family including two adults and one child. There is a $10 fee for each additional child.

Memberships are month to month and can be canceled at any time.

SOURCE: Wellness for Life and Brown County Schools

Want to help pay a patient’s way?

Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare is working to raise money to help pay for memberships to the Brown County Health & Wellness Center, set to open on Jan. 23.

To donate, email Bill Todd at wbtodd@gmail.com.

Events to learn more

Do you want to learn more about Brown County’s newest health clinic? Are you interested in becoming a member?

Plan to attend a community event from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29 in the Goldberg Room at Brown County High School.

The Brown County Health & Wellness Center will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 in their building at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park, 1749 State Road 46 East.

The construction on an exam room at the new Brown County Health and Wellness Center is nearing completion. The clinic, located at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park, is set to open on Jan. 23.

From left to right: Dillon Hoover, Brian Hoover and Logan Courtney with Hickeys Painting and Construction Company paint the walls in the office area at the new Brown County Health and Wellness Center at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park. The clinic is set to open on Jan. 23 and is owned by Brown County Schools.

Dillon Hoover with Hickeys Painting and Construction Company paints a wall in the office area at the new Brown County Health and Wellness Center at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park. The clinic is set to open on Jan. 23 and is owned by Brown County Schools.

Brian Hoover with Hickeys Painting and Construction Company paints a wall in the office area at the new Brown County Health and Wellness Center at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park. The clinic is set to open on Jan. 23.

Logan Courtney with Hickeys Painting and Construction Company paints a door to the lab at the new Brown County Health and Wellness Center at Brown County Schools’ Eagle Park. The clinic is set to open on Jan. 23 and is owned by Brown County Schools.

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