A growing number of Mississippi employers are offering health care at, or near, their work sites. MPB’s Evelina Burnett visited a health clinic for employees of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Jackson County.
The clinic is about a 10-minute drive from the shipyard. It's open to 25,000 Ingalls employees and their dependents, 4,600 of whom have used the center so far.
Ingalls engineer Charlie Reichel came in for a check-up soon after the center opened last July. That's when he learned he had Type 2 diabetes. He's since worked closely with a wellness coach, a dietitian and a diabetes specialist, all at the center.
“One thing I will say about my wellness team is, they generally care about me. It was so refreshing. They weren’t just in the medical field telling me what I had to do. They were cheering me on, rooting me on.”
The National Association of Worksite Health Centers estimates 30 percent of employers now offer some type of on-site or near-site health care. Larry Boress, the group’s executive director, says these range from a nurse who visits a few hours a week, to a full-scale clinic like the one at Ingalls, which offers primary care, lab work, specialties like physical therapy and a pharmacy.
"Having something at the work site or very near helps people address their medical needs in a very easy way," Boress says.
The convenience and reduced costs at these clinics can also help keep employees healthy.
Murray Harber is executive director of the Mississippi Business Group on Health. He says the clinics can help improve the health of employees.
"The ease, the access, and most of the time, the no additional cost, gets them in the door," he says. "Also, the on-site clinics help capture those who don't normally seek care on an annual basis."
Harber says both private and public employers are offering the services, including the cities of Hattiesburg and Jackson.
For Ingalls engineer Reichel, the services he’s received – most at no cost - have helped him lose weight, improve his cholesterol and blood pressure, and he's been able to cut the amount of medicine he takes to control his diabetes.