On-site clinic now open

 Cheryl Rohde, medical assistant at the district's on-site clinic, works at the computer during an open house Wednesday.

The Watertown Unified School District held an open house for its on-site clinic on Wednesday at the Educational Service Center.

The 1,200-square-foot medical clinic offers acute care services, preventative care and disease management for school district employees, families and retirees over the age of two on the district's health insurance plan. The clinic is staffed by Julie Thomas, physicians assistant and Cheryl Rohde, medical assistant. Both worked in emergency rooms before taking jobs with Healthstat at the clinic. Healthstat operates the clinic for the district.

Rohde who does the administrative and clerical tasks at the clinic as well as measuring vitals and administering medications and injections said appointment generally take about 15 minutes and people are in and out quick.

An on-site clinic option offers the potential for the district to generate cost savings through improved wellness and reduced health care costs. The clinic should save the district about $1.3 million over the next three years.

Doug Linse, Director of Business Services said the clinic has been a useful tool for staff.

"The accessibility and efficiency of it and the way people can leave work," he said.

Staff can schedule appointments during prep and lunch times and before and after school so they don't have to take off work. Rohde also said family members on the district's health plan can sometimes get into the on-site clinic faster than a pediatrician when they have a sick child.

The clinic has been well received by district employees, since the Dec. 6, 2016, opening.

Paul VanDenLangenberg, school board member said, "This looks pretty neat to me. I'm pretty excited about it and it benefits the school district employees which is really what we want."

"We hope it will be a benefit for the employees and save the district money too," said Mark Putra, school board president.

Members of the Milwaukee School Board were in attendance at the open house to see the facility for themselves. Watertown is not the first school district to implement the idea of an on-site health clinic, other Wisconsin schools which embraced the idea include Green Bay and West Bend.

School district superintendent Cassandra Schug said she is excited to offer this service to employees.

"Julie and Cheryl are so personable and I think they have really welcomed our staff into the clinic and I've heard lots of positive feedback that people who have appreciated the opportunity to use the service."

Not all district employees were happy about the district building an on-site clinic, but Schug said people have been feeling it out.

"Every time you do something new or something different it can be a little bit of a leap of faith, but I think we have such a great opportunity here to save the district money, save the employee money and at the end of the day create better wellness for everyone. "

The clinic is open for employees and families on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays from noon to 7 p.m. and one Saturday per quarter in 2017. Employees can schedule an appointment by calling 1-866-959-9355. Online scheduling after the first visit will also be available.

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