Waukesha Common Council approves shared health clinic with county, school district

Published on: 5/6/2014

While there was still reluctance by some members of Waukesha’s Common Council, the final piece to the puzzle on a shared health clinic between three governmental entities is complete.

In a 10-4 vote, the Waukesha Common Council Tuesday night voted to join the Waukesha School Board and Waukesha County Board in approving the intergovernmental agreement for a joint employee health clinic.

The city’s finance and human resources committees had previously recommended unanimous approval of the agreement at a joint meeting two weeks ago.

The county and school board approved the agreement in March.

Employees and retirees of the city, school district and county, along with their families, will be able to use the facility, which will be located in the offices of the county division of public health at 615 W. Moreland Blvd. on the grounds of the Waukesha County Courthouse.

The clinic, which will be operated by the North Carolina-based health care provider Healthstat, can be used for services such as primary care, wellness, pharmacy, occupational medicine and health assessments. However, emergency room services are not available at the clinic.

City Administrator Ed Henschel said the shared health clinic is expected to save the three entities a combined $8 million over five years, the length of the agreement.

According to projected figures provided by Henschel, the city will invest $190,000 in the first year and $7,800 in the second but would begin realizing $210,000 in savings in the third year followed by $501,000 in the fourth year and another $714,000 in the fifth year.

“The savings are too big to ignore,” Alderman Vance Skinner said.

Employees aren’t required to use the facility but the more who use the facility the greater the savings become for the entities. The savings estimates are based on a 50 percent participation rate. Employees’ insurance providers will be accepted at the clinic. The cost of co-pays will be dramatically less at the Healthstat clinic than community clinics, Henschel said.

“The clinic is a win-win for both the city and employees,” Henschel said. “It’s another tool in our toolbox in trying to provide good health care while keeping our costs down.”

Alderman Cory Payne said the unknown in how many people would actually use the facility is a drawback for him.

“It sounds like there’s way too many what ifs,” said Payne, who was joined by Aldermen Eric Payne and Adam Jankowski and Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings in voting against the intergovernmental agreement. “Before you get into something you should have a set number, not ‘let’s cross our fingers and let’s hope it works.’ We need to take our time.”

However, Henschel, along with Aldermen Terry Thieme, Joe Pieper and Andy Reiland stressed that this process has been thoroughly vetted.

“It’s not going to fail,” Reiland said. “The failure would be to not pass it.”

The process to have a shared medical clinic began in late 2012 when the three entities partnered together to conduct a feasibility study. Twelve health care providers submitted Requests for Proposals (RFPs) before Healthstat was selected by the three governmental entities on Jan. 27, 2014.

A committee that included representatives from all three entities was part of the vetting process.

Thieme said many public and private sector entities already use onsite health clinics.

“This isn’t something brand new,” said Thieme, whose company, Kohl’s, uses a health clinic for its employees. “Other companies have tried this and it’s been very successful. From my experience, there are no downsides. I see it as a win for taxpayers, a win for the city and a win for our employers.”

Thieme also said having a shared clinic with two other governmental bodies is a “great way to collaborate.”

The facility, which will undergo renovation in the coming months, is expected to be open by Nov. 1. The county has budgeted $243,000 for the upgrades.

The original timeline called for the facility to be open by September. But that date was pushed back once the city delayed its vote after former mayor Jeff Scrima brought representatives from ProHealth Care to a Common Council meeting in March in an attempt to look at other options.

Cummings then wanted Henschel to look at an alternative request from ProHealth Care, but Henschel has said that restarting the process isn’t how the public process works and that ProHealth Care was rated 12th of the 12 vendors that were looked at during the vetting process.