New health clinic to serve school district staff | NevadaAppeal.com

New health clinic to serve school district staff

A new health clinic is opening to serve staff of the Carson City School District.

Prominence Health Plan, the school district's health insurance provider, is working with Seattle-based Vera Whole Health to launch a clinic based on a team approach to healthcare.

The goal is to provide better access to primary care and improve health outcomes while lowering medical costs, representatives from the healthcare providers told the school board on Tuesday.

"Nevada has an issue," with a shortage of primary care physicians, said Gabrielle Sansone, vice president of commercial sales, Prominence Health Plans. "Medical costs continue to rise. How do we control that? And what type of wellness program is the right one? How do you take all of these three things? Our solution is Vera Whole Health."

Prominence is financing construction of the clinic, which is going in on Winnie Lane in the former Salvation Army store site. It's slated to open Jan. 2.

The 6,020 square-foot clinic will include 10 examination rooms, two coaching rooms, an onsite dispensary for some generic medicines, and a laboratory.

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The clinic will also serve Prominence Health Plan's 1,500 Carson City Medicare Advantage clients, and will have a split waiting room to serve the different sets of patients.

Jennifer Sargent, chief revenue officer, Vera Whole Health, said the clinic will be staffed by a primary care physician and nurse practitioner as well as a health coach who helps patients make needed behavioral changes.

Visits with providers will last from 30 to 60 minutes rather than the 7 minutes which is the average at most doctors' offices, said Sargent.

The model includes what Vera Whole Health calls an annual health assessment that looks at a patient's physical, psychological and social condition.

Patients won't pay a copay for a visit, unless they have a health insurance savings plan, and aren't required to give up another primary care physician or specialists.

"Our goal is to get you into the model, but you can still use your own primary care physician," and self refer to a specialist, said Sansone.

Sargent said Seattle Children's Hospital Research Foundation, a Vera Whole Health client, saw medical costs drop 4 percent in the second year and 12 percent in the third year, primarily through a reduction in emergency room visits and specialty services.

At its meeting, the school board also approved the renewal of Prominence Health Plan coverage for the next calendar year.

The rate was slated to go up 9 percent, after several years of remaining flat, but Clark & Associates, the school district's insurance broker, negotiated it down to a 5 percent hike, according to Valerie Clark, the broker's president.