Kwik Trip is providing a quick trip for employees to remain hale and hearty, opening its own health clinic at its La Crosse headquarters.
Offering wellness programs as well as some acute care services, the Kwik Trip Center for Health aims not only to improve employees’ health but also reduce costs for the chain, said Angie Hammond, who supervises the site.
“The healthier the co-workers, the healthier the business and the bottom line,” Hammond said.
The clinic went live Dec. 4 and has been busy in the run-up to the ribbon cutting and open houses for employees and their families Jan. 10 and 11.
Randy Miritello of Onalaska, who has used the facility three times, said during a visit Tuesday, “I really like the fact that you can make an appointment online.”
Miritello, a 43-year-old produce co-worker at Kwik Trip’s distribution center across the street from the clinic, went there on opening day for a hoarse throat, another time for a health assessment and again Tuesday for lab work.
“I think everybody should take advantage of that (assessment) to know their health status,” he said. “Instead of being reactive, be proactive.
“I like that you can come over during your lunch hour,” Miritello said. “This is one of the best benefits that’s come down the pipe from Kwik Trip in a long time.”
Kwik Trip owns the building, and its seven staffers are employees of Marathon Health For Life, a national worksite health care company based in Winooski, Vt., contracted to run the facility. Staffers include a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant and a physical therapist.
The facility will serve the 3,000 Kwik Trip employees and their families in the La Crosse area, with online services also available to them and the 452-store chain’s 8,000 other co-workers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, said company benefits manager Mila Spencer.
“Basically, any co-worker can use the health center,” Spencer said. “If they’re here for training or just passing through, they can use it. The online resources were really important for us, too.”
Wellness visits, such as coaching on lifestyle changes, weight loss, quitting smoking and disease management, are free, while acute care services and lab tests require insurance co-pays, Hammond said.
The facility also does new employee and random drug screenings, physical tests and physical therapy, she said. It has staff offices, a lab, four exam rooms, a procedure room, a conference room and physical therapy room, with other rooms for potential additional services.
Health coaching is one of the center’s cornerstones, said Hammond, a registered nurse who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and worked in cardiac rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare for 15 years.
“The Marathon model slows down and opens up the process,” she said. “I’m going to take time to get to know the co-workers because they know the most about themselves. With health care, the patient has the answers — you’re helping them tap into that to set goals.”
“It sets an atmosphere for success,” she said.
Kwik Trip opted to build the center after studying overall health care costs and checking out other facilities, Spencer said.
“This is a way to both contain health care costs and be good for our co-workers,” Spencer said. “It really focuses on wellness, not just when they are sick.”
The center plans collaboration rather than competition with the city’s two hospital systems to meet patient needs beyond clinic services, Spencer and Hammond said.
For example, Hammond said, “Last week, we referred a patient to a hospital for a CT scan. … When their primary care is at Mayo or Gundersen, we’re not going to take away that primary care.”
Marathon marketing vice president Tracey Moran said the company has contracted clinics at 140 sites across the country since forming in 2005.
Two of its measures of success are companies’ health care savings and improving employees’ health, Moran said.
Conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol “are expensive for the employers and costly for individuals not only for productivity but for feeling well and having a healthier life,” she said.
The company monitors the dollars saved and health of a company’s workers for a year and reports back to the client, she said.
“A year later, we see how far we’ve moved the needle in reducing claims and improving health,” she said.
La Crosse County Health Director Doug Mormann said he isn’t familiar with the Kwik Trip clinic, but he said such services are an emerging trend.
“It seems to be successful to promote health for employees and for businesses to improve and protect the profit margin,” Mormann said. “Helping families stay healthy and live longer is a win-win for companies with the economies of scale to provide such services.”
Smaller companies also are doing so by introducing wellness programs to their employees, he said.
About one-third of the Kwik Trip co-workers who visited the center so far have been looking for coaching and preventive measures, Hammond said.
“With the New Year’s resolutions,” she said, “we’re seeing a lot of people seeking coaching.”