Mac Goes Medical

Mac Goes Medical

On site health facility aims to save time and health

Freddie Mac has stepped up to meet a new trend in the health-care industry by opening a free, on-site health-care center for its employees. The center will provide a variety of services at the mortgage facilities headquarters in McLean. The purpose of opening the facility is to help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle while not taking time away from their personal and professional obligations.

James Hummer, the president of Whole Health, which staffs and monitors the health-care center, said the new facility Òis an oasis within the health-care field these days.Ó Conversely, itÕs also an old idea that is re-emerging into the health-care scene.

Sarah Crate, the business development director for Whole Health, said, ÒThe concept has been around for quite a while. Occupational clinics have been around for some time. But, what weÕve seen lately is a shift in the last couple of years for places that are non-manufacturing environments becoming more prevalent. Also, occupational clinics are extending beyond work-related issues,Ó said Crate.

A recent study by Watson Wyatt titled ÒPursuing Targeted Approaches to Improve Organizational Health,Ó concludes, ÒSuccessful companies benefit from having employees that are present and productive.Ó The study also states, ÒSuccessful companies pursue targeted approaches to organizational health.Ó These include benefit cost management and optimizing hidden benefits such as satisfaction, health and productivity.

WHOLE HEALTH has more than 50 on-site health-care facilities under its direction across the country. Its typical client has 500 or more employees, but, Crate says ÒThere is debate about the return of investment for smaller facilitiesÓ Ñ meaning the savings might become more accessible and appropriate for smaller companies in the future.

Companies that invest in their own on-site facility are able to reduce their health-care costs, in addition to reducing lost work hours, according to Crate. ÒSome companies are now opening up the clinics to spouses and dependents as well,Ó Crate said.

Freddie Mac is one of the top employers in the area and is noted for the array of employee benefits and services the company provides to its employees.

Margaret Colon, chief administrative officer, said at the grand opening for the health center, ÒThis undertaking is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to be an employer of choice. Without good health we really donÕt get to enjoy our personal or professional life.Ó

Michael Yager, a senior vice president at Freddie Mac, said, ÒThis is a combination that has major rewards for employees.Ó Having an on-site health-care center, said Yager, would enable employees to schedule doctorÕs appointments when it is convenient for them, without having to lose time at work. It also allows employees to avail themselves of preventive health care through such things as flu shots and pregnancy tests or monitoring by a staff dietitian.

ÒThis is also a major incentive for shareholders at Freddie Mac,Ó Yager said. Employees who do not have to take time off to go to doctorÕs appointments and wait for a visit are more productive at work, he said.

Hummer stated that the health-care professionals working at the center were excited about the opportunity to work one-on-one with employees and to be able to make a direct impact on people.

ÒThis is very different than anything else out there. ItÕs a win-win-win for everybody,Ó said Hummer.

EMPLOYEES WILL be able to get services that range from emergency care, urgent care, walk-in, preventive care and health education to routine checkups. ÒThis is integrated services to keep people at peak performance,Ó said Hummer.

Dr. Columbus Giles will be the on-site physician who is available several days a week to see patients. ÒWe will continue to customize this,Ó Giles told employees. Giles has made sure the facility offers testing that will make the lives of Freddie Mac employees a little easier. ÒWe will offer fasting blood work for outside physicians. Just bring in an order from the doctor, and we will take the blood work here,Ó said Giles.

Colon said, ÒThis is preventative health care as well as a supplement to the health care we get from our primary physician. This just takes one added element out of the equation and makes life a little easier.Ó

Hummer said his vision for Whole Health and the facilities using their medical facilities is "to be a major catalyst for change, to transform the U.S. health-care delivery system at the grass-roots level - one client and one employee at a time."

According to Crate, some companies are beginning to use the on-site facilities as primary care operations with a co-pay that is equal to the amount that would be paid for an outside visit to a physician.

Yager said, ÒWe talked about a vision of a wellness center at Freddie Mac. It didnÕt take us long to talk about this exciting opportunity. ItÕs consistent with what weÕve done in the past.Ó