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Granite School District Opens Private Health Center To Save On Employee Health Care Costs

Photo of nurse practitioner.
Erik Neumann / KUER
Sally Epperson is a family nurse practitioner at the new Granite Employee Wellness Center.

About 12,000 employees and their families who work in the Granite School District have a new way to get health care starting on Tuesday: a clinic just for them.

This week district officials unveiled a primary and urgent care facility, housed in a former seminary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Valley Junior High School campus in West Valley. They say it’s the first on-site clinic for a public school in the state.

The Granite Employee Wellness Center will provide immunizations, dispense medications and house a licensed social worker for mental health services, to name just a few of their services. The clinic is intended to save money for both the school district and employees.

“We’re hoping to bend our insurance trend line to stay even. We’re hoping that we don’t have an increase every single year,” said Donnette McNeill-Waters, Granite School District Human Resources director.

The cost of healthcare for staff in the Granite district increases every year, McNeill-Waters said. With more companies like CVS and Walgreens providing health services, private “wellness clinics” are another way to disrupt rising health care costs while providing basic services outside of conventional medical settings.

The Granite School District hopes to save money with this business model by eliminating overhead paid to insurers, McNeill-Waters said. Likewise, employees won’t have to cover co-pays for their visits.

“There’s a ton of people who don’t have a primary care doctor who are going to InstaCare for their yearly physical … InstaCare is crazy-expensive!” said Michele Jones, a Granite School District math teacher at Cypress High School, referring to urgent care facilities. Jones is interested because of the low cost and the teacher-friendly hours. The clinic will be open past 5 p.m. and on Saturdays.

“This makes it so I don’t have to take a day off to go see the doctor for something that — maybe it’s just to get a refill,” Jones said.

The clinic is optional for staff. Employees can still access health care services through the two other insurers Granite School District contracts with — Select Health and Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield. McNeill-Waters emphasized the wellness center is yet another option and that employees will still need to visit other hospital systems for speciality care.

The Granite clinic is being run by Premise Health. They operate over 600 “direct health care” wellness centers for businesses across the country.

“We’re able to deliver a better member experience, higher clinical quality, and better financial value to clients and members in a system that’s pretty broken,” said Premise President Jami Doucette during the clinic unveiling on Monday.

The West Valley clinic will start serving patients on Tuesday, McNeill-Waters said. She added that with health care costs in the Granite district increasing every year and a shortage of primary care doctors in Utah, this likely won’t be their only site.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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