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Health Care

Moving Even Closer To Where Patients Are

By Vicky Janowski, posted Sep 6, 2019
NHRMC physical therapist Marcus Bair works with Matthew Conlin at the NHRMC Rehabilitation location at the Nir Family YMCA. (Photo by David Hardin C/O NHRMC)
Area medical practices in recent years have followed the rooftops, opening locations to be closer to where patients live to capture that convenience edge.
 
Now providers are popping up even closer on people’s daily routines – in at least some cases in the local market – making health care available near their workstations or workout rooms.
 
In July, Wilmington Health opened a clinic on Live Oak Bank’s campus on Tiburon Drive for the company’s employees and their families.
 
Health has been a company culture focus for the Wilmington-based bank, whose benefits include the bank’s employees and the spouses, domestic partners and dependents on their health plans.
 
“With the state of health care and the expenses associated with it, it continues to be a priority for Live Oak,” said Courtney Spencer, Live Oak’s chief administrative officer.
 
Wilmington-headquartered Live Oak Bank has about 560 employees, though not all are locally based. Those who work out of other offices, however, can still access the clinic if needed when in town.
 
Access to same-day health care was one reason the company decided to work with Wilmington Health to open the on-site clinic, Spencer said.
 
In its first three weeks, the clinic, which is located in the bank’s newly constructed third building that also houses its employee fitness center, had over 100 patient visits “from 12 months of age on up,” Spencer said.
 
Nurse practitioner McKenzie Kline staffs the clinic. Employees might walk over for a flu shot, for a sick visit, for their kids’ school physicals, for help with an ongoing or chronic issue or a range of primary care needs.
 
Having a provider so close to their office makes it easier for patients to avoid putting off getting checked out, said Kristina Johns, director of primary care for Wilmington Health.

“They’re also doing their wellness and general care,” she said.
 
This is the first on-site work clinic for Wilmington Health, though the physician group has had discussions with other employers, said Melissa Odom, COO of Wilmington Health’s accountable care organization.
 
A number of factors would be necessary before making similar arrangements with other companies in the area, she said.
 
“The employer would have to have a self-funded insurance plan. There’s a lot of boxes you would have to check,” Odom said.
 
Beyond care visits, Kline also plans to hold lunch-and-learn topics on health and wellness as well as keep an eye on care management.
 
Those types of things, along with making it more convenient for people to have health issues addressed instead of putting off appointments, not only help with their overall wellness and illness-related absenteeism, but for a self-insured entity like Live Oak, it has the potential to help contain company health care costs.
 
Spencer said that while they’ll be watching the big picture on costs and utilization with having the clinic on-site, she added that Live Oak would not be receiving individual patient information from Wilmington Health.
 
Meanwhile across town, New Hanover Regional Medical Center has stationed a physical therapist at the Nir Family YMCA on Market Street to catch people in between workouts (though non-Y members also can make appointments as well).
 
“Partnering with the Nir Family YMCA gives NHRMC physical therapists access to facilities, trainers, and programs to support recovery,” hospital officials said in a news release.
 
Physical therapist Marcus Bair keeps regular hours for appointments throughout the week at the fitness center, offering sports rehabilitation, joint replacement rehabilitation, spine care and post-surgical rehabilitation.
 
Rebecca McGhee, NHRMC’s manager of outpatient therapy, said in the release, “Whether clients are in pain or want to improve their mobility, our team will customize a care plan to help them meet their goals.”
 
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