BY ZACH ROTH
For over 60 years, Hope has provided care for children with various disabilities. In Springfield, Hope has a residential campus and school on East Hazel Dell Lane, in addition to offering outpatient services at the Hope Pavilion in the former Doctors Hospital building on South Sixth Street. Working with these children requires a loyal, resourceful and dedicated staff, those who can nurture and soothe, and be a calming presence in a life that for many is not so calm.
As a way of offering additional support to staff members, Hope has teamed up with HSHS Medical Group and the City of Springfield to open a new clinic through HSHS’s LeadWell initiative.
The new clinic, which opened in early March, will provide basic care for those on Hope’s and the city’s insurance plans. For Hope, an organization dedicated to treating those with the most sophisticated needs, the idea to open a primary care office for its employees was a natural fit.
“It’s a service and a benefit that we can provide to our employees,” Clint Paul, the president and CEO of Hope said. “We want to provide benefits to our employees that are meaningful and worthwhile.” He noted there was space available at Hope Pavilion, close to where many of the employees are housed, which would make it convenient for them to receive services. “I think it’s a benefit that our employees will enjoy.”
Another benefit that they will share with their partners from the City of Springfield is a lower cost for the care that they will receive at this clinic.
“For our employees, they can go to these clinics at either no cost or a significantly reduced cost, depending on what health insurance plan they are on with us,” Paul said.
While the employees of Hope are excited about the new possibilities, the city is also enjoying the many perks that come with a new health facility, not the least of which is the lower cost of services for their insured employees.
“The overall purpose of doing all of this is trying to control the cost, the escalating cost, of our city health plan,” Bill McCarty, director of the city’s Office of Budget and Management, said. “That has worked out really, really well for everyone. The employees love the clinic and the city and the employees themselves have seen more of a flat (movement) in terms of cost over the years, rather than the escalation that we were seeing before.”
This is not the first LeadWell clinic that the city has collaborated with an outside source on. Another clinic, with help from St. John’s and Horace Mann, is also available to employees in HSHS’s building on East Madison Street.
The LeadWell initiative was designed with businesses and groups like Hope in mind. It provides a variety of health care services, including the primary care offices, not to mention corporate wellness checkups that help employees through a wide range of medical issues, such as stress and family related problems. It’s an initiative that HSHS president Dr. Loren Hughes has been excited to show off.
“The entire LeadWell product, we’re just providing the care that businesses need,” Hughes said. “We just show them the a la carte buffet and they can choose what they want to do for their employees, and then we do everything we can to make sure it happens at the lowest cost possible.”
The clinics are adjusted to the partners’ specifications. For instance, Hughes said that the city wanted biometric screenings of their employees, something that HSHS was more than willing to provide.
In addition to the many unique services that the clinics provide, Hughes also said that the clinics fill a need for many employees and workers.
“For the businesses that we worked for, we found as high as 30 percent of the employees don’t have a primary care doctor,” Hughes said. “They would do without primary care or even wellness services at all if it wasn’t for this clinic.”
The relationship between Hope, the city and HSHS is already off to a smooth start. It’s been so smooth, in fact, that others have been reaching out to get a piece of the services that these clinics provide.
“Our HR team, and I know the City of Springfield as well, has reached out to some other employers in this general area on this side of town for their interest,” Paul said. “There’s a couple that have interest and are looking at it, so we kind of give those leads to LeadWell to talk to them, because it’s really up to LeadWell to show them how they can save money on their insurance plans.”
If all goes well, other groups will get on board, allowing for more people to use the services, and creating an entirely new set of partnerships. Hughes hopes that the LeadWell initative has helped create a new paradigm when it comes to treating people throughout the Springfield area.
“We’re trying to meet the patient and the people that we are trying to take care of where they are,” Hughes said. “It’s almost like a house call. I think it’s going to catch on. If you look nationally, these employer-based clinics like what we’re doing, these are really catching on everywhere, and with the cost of care spiraling out of control, this is a way for us to try to put some reins on it.”