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Clinics Eyed for East, West Polk

By Kara Phelps
News Chief staff

Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 4:01 a.m. 

BARTOW - The Polk County School Board recently voted to begin negotiations to create two health clinics for its employees. After a bid process, they approved HealthStat, based in Charlotte, N.C., to open and manage them.

The school district intends for its employees and retirees to attend clinics in two central locations, possibly one each in the east and west parts of Polk County. The clinics are part of the district's plan to cut costs on health care by reducing emergency room visits and managing employees' chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

HealthStat spokeswoman Kara Dullea estimated Wednesday that the district will save $8 million per year on its health plan, or $3 in claims for every $1 it spends on the clinics.

Officials expect the clinics to open in the late spring or early summer.

The School Board agreed to pursue negotiations with HealthStat as part of the consent agenda at Tuesday's meeting.

Polk County Public Schools has about 13,000 employees, making it the largest employer in the county. Its health plan insures about 20,000 people.

Officials have said the clinics will be open at hours convenient to teachers. The district also will save money on substitutes, since many teachers will no longer need to take off half a day for a doctor's appointment, according to Joy Myers, senior manager of employee benefits.

The clinics will operate like urgent-care facilities, possibly both staffed by a doctor and several nurses, physician's assistants or other medical personnel. They will be open only to Polk County Public Schools employees and retirees.

HealthStat also runs the health clinic for the 3,000 employees of the city of Lakeland.

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