KELLER — Keller school district employees will have access to their own health clinic this school year, a move aimed at keeping educators healthy — and healthcare costs down.Officials with the school district recently announced their partnership with Vermont-based Marathon Health Inc., which will provide primary care, assessments, coaching, disease management and urgent care for the 2,400 employees on the district’s healthcare plan.The initial start-up fee with Marathon is $174,000, and the projected first-year costs will be about $498,000, according to the district.The clinic, which will be called KISD Employee Health & Wellness Center, or K-Well, will be free for employees. It is expected to be ready by September.“Our ultimate goal is to have the teachers in the classroom,” said Sheri Rich, Keller’s director of human resources-employee benefits for the district.The district is considering a building near North Tarrant Parkway and U.S. 377 for the clinic, according to materials included with the agenda of a June 23 school board meeting. A lease has not been finalized, but the board has approved letting the administration move forward on an agreement.Keller is following the lead of the Northwest school district, which opened an on-site clinic in 2011.Rich said the idea for an on-site clinic came as the district explored different ways to help contain healthcare costs. “We started inquiring about bringing a clinic to Keller back in October 2013,” Rich said, explaining that a committee visited Northwest’s clinic. The committee also met with various vendors to research the project.“The committee felt this would be a benefit to the health and wellness of our employees,” Rich said.Rich said the on-site clinic is a savvy plan for the district because it helps keep healthcare costs down. The district has a self-funded insurance plan, meaning that its employees are the only people in the plan. Many school districts have insurance plans offered through the Teacher Retirement System, which pools employees from many districts.“We are the consumers of our plan,” Rich said. “If we are healthier, then our benefits are going to be greater.” Trustee Ruthie Keyes said the clinic will allow teachers to make visits during off periods.“I think it will be tremendously helpful,” Keyes said. “I’m hoping a lot of people will utilize it.”The clinic will complement the efforts of the district’s Keller Working on Wellness program, which promotes exercise. In October, the program will hold a health fair with Texas health Resources, Rich said.The on-site clinic is expected to help keep teachers and staff healthier and in the classroom, which would ultimately affect student success, said Superintendent Randy Reid.“We want our employees to have the opportunity to be their healthiest, and we are excited about this partnership with Marathon to bring on-site employee health services to our district,” Reid said. “The less time spent away recovering from illness means the more time spent in the classroom or office working to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students.”The clinic won’t be available to spouses or dependents at first, Rich said.“We want to start small,” she said. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1