SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: Wellness center care available to community

By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

If you have driven past the Eagle Park athletics complex recently, you may have noticed a banner indicating a grand opening for the Brown County Health and Wellness Center. This facility is officially open for business, and I couldn’t be more excited.

When I first began to serve as superintendent of Brown County Schools, one of the ideas that the board of school trustees asked me to explore was opening an onsite medical clinic to serve the employees and their dependents who were in our school district’s health benefit trust, as well as the community of Brown County.

At the beginning of 2017, our district began a partnership with an employee benefits advisor, RE Sutton & Associates. One of the primary reasons why we engaged with this firm is that they had a significant success rate with assisting districts in developing onsite clinics to serve their employees and the community.

During this process, I was privileged to meet with representatives from a local grassroots group who care deeply about the health and wellness of the community, Brown Countians for Quality Healthcare. This group’s mission is to see everyone get the healthcare they need, regardless of income. During our conversations, I was touched by their passion and we immediately saw a connection between the work we were doing and their hopes for high quality medical care for all.

Very soon after our engagement with RE Sutton & Associates, their team advised us to meet with a group from Wellness for Life who have a proven track record of establishing and administering health centers across the state of Indiana.

From the start, we appreciated their thinking about health care in a “redefined” way. They believe strongly that using the word “clinic” serves only one facet of quality healthcare. They believe in “providing collaborative, patient-centric care that optimizes a vast number of resources, support and value to the needs of each individual patient.” This is not your standard primary care mission statement.

We have been so impressed with our engagement with Wellness for Life from the start. This group offers a unique method for allowing the Brown County Health and Wellness Center to serve not only the individuals and their dependents who are in the Brown County Schools Health Benefit Trust, but they offer a “gym membership” model where individuals, businesses and organizations — anyone — can pay a monthly fee to receive the same comprehensive services that are provided to individuals under the school plan. This model is called a “direct primary care” or “DPC” plan.

We are absolutely thrilled with the space that we have remodeled for the Brown County Health and Wellness Center. If you have never been to the Eagle Park complex, I invite you to take a drive inside and you will see a little brown house on your left. This house used to serve as a storage facility for our district; however, you would never know that now. The space was beautifully remodeled by our own maintenance team and we now have a fully functioning primary care facility.

We believe that this facility is the answer to a distinct need for many of our local employers. Since we are a community of many businesses related to tourism, we recognize that employers employ a large number of employees on a part-time basis. Because of this, it has been impossible to offer primary care services to these employees because of the high cost of health insurance.

The direct primary care model at the Brown County Health and Wellness Center is a model that provides full primary care for a fraction of the cost of a comprehensive health insurance plan.

The monthly rates for direct primary care membership are as follows: $65 for adults, $35 for children (under 18 years), $150 for a family — two adults and one child (each additional child is $10) — and $120 for a couple. Under this membership fee, all of the direct primary care needs, labs and regular acute medications are included. Any additional medications are charged at wholesale cost. As you can see, through one month of membership, you will pay less than one visit to an express clinic.

The current hours of operation are Tuesdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In order for us to expand hours of operation toward our goal of being open Monday through Friday, we need more members through the direct primary care model. If you are interested in learning more about the direct primary care model, please call 844-333-0802 or visit the website dpcindiana.com.

We are so excited to provide this opportunity to the community of Brown County. Your health and wellness are a priority for the schools because we believe that a community who is well adds value to the development of its young people. Please join us.

Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or lhammack@browncountyschools.com.