For the first time in Northern Nevada, thousands of employees at three Reno casinos have access to an onsite clinic. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray checks out what this type of healthcare looks like.
On the casino floor of the Circus Circus, dozens of workers are dealing out cards and carrying drink trays to gamblers.
The Circus Circus, Silver Legacy and the Eldorado now have onsite medical care facility. Last spring, their parent company opened a 4,450 square-foot clinic with three exam rooms and a pharmacy. There’s no co-pay and employees can be seen within 24 hours by a doctor or nurse.
Rick Murdock is an executive with the Eldorado Resorts in Reno.
“We decided that this might give us the edge in the workplace for our employees and their dependents,” Murdock explains, “so this is why we did it.”
Murdock declined to offer up specific numbers about how much it costs to set up the clinic or say how much it could save the company.
“But I think the return is, I think, this is what we give back to our employees and helping us recruit; that’s our return,” Murdock says. “It’s not, this is not a big money-making situation.”
Dr. Kori Singleton has been a primary care provider for about two decades and now works at the casino clinic.
“This model, which I do believe is going to be the model of the future, it saves money, not only for employers, but also for patients,” Singleton says. “Patients can come as many times as they need and they don’t have a co-pay, which can cause a barrier in healthcare.”
Singleton says there are long-term benefits to removing those barriers.
“If I can’t afford to go to my doctor frequently, to get my diabetes under control, I may not go and therefore may not get the care that I need,” Singleton explains. “In the long run, that costs me more money, costs the employer more money; it costs the healthcare system in general more money.”
Since care is available only to eligible employees and their dependents, Singleton gets more one-one-time with her patients.
“To have the opportunity to have more time connecting with people, really impacting their health, in psychological ways and physical ways, all of those kinds of things are really rewarding to me as a healthcare provider, healer,” Singleton explains. “Practicing, if you want to practice your art, and you have more time to do it, you’re probably going to do a better job.”
Sergio Gonzalez, a newly employed security guard with Circus Circus, pops into the clinic to find out if he can see someone for back pain.
“Chances are I’d be less likely to seek treatment considering that I haven’t really had access to care as easily,” Gonzalez explains.
Gonzalez says having this benefit makes him want to stay with the company.
“It’s accommodating for employees to be able to have an onsite clinic to refer to if they had medical emergencies or medical necessities,” Gonzalez says. “Convenience and accessibility are two aspects that are absolutely beneficial to an employee.”
Another employee patient is Jaclyn Smith, who works in advertising with the Silver Legacy.
“There are a lot of people out there right now, who don’t have insurance. They don’t have medical coverage, so for an employer to provide that is a huge bonus for the employees,” Smith says. “I think it provides a little less stress, gives them a little more comfort.”
Smith booked an appointment for a few spells of lightheadedness. After getting checked out, she took a short walk back to her office.
Larry Boress heads up the National Association of Worksite Health Centers and says that’s why onsite clinics are appealing to employers.
“When someone has to leave work, and get in their car, or grab public transportation, get in to see their provider, wait there, they’re usually gone three to four hours. They go home; they may feed the dog [and] not come back to work,” Boress explains. “And when you multiply the hours, and how often people leave, and how many people leave, times the average salary, it’s significant numbers.”
Boress says more and more companies are looking into onsite clinics.
“For many employers, these centers have become the most popular benefit people offer, and in some communities, I’ll give you an example of Silicon Valley,” Boress says, “if you’re trying to hire some new person for your operation and you’ve got Yahoo, and you’ve got Google, and you’ve got Cisco and all of them are offering a work site clinic, and you’re not, all of a sudden you’re not an employer of choice because you can’t compete.”
Based on the size and needs of the employer, onsite clinics can come in many forms and can offer an array of medical or wellness services. There's not a lot of data yet, but a recent survey shows about 30 percent of companies with five-thousand-plus employees offer workplace clinics, and more are looking into launching these services.