On-Site Medical Clinics in Oklahoma Provide Easy Access to Health Care

Article excerpt

As a physician, Bruce Dennis didn't anticipate that he would eventually work in the legal industry.

But Monday through Friday Dennis can be found at Pre-Paid Legal Services.

Ada-based Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. offers an on-site medical clinic, doctor's office and two fully equipped examination rooms.

"It wasn't difficult to transition to here," said Dennis. "It's a little different mind-set, but it's been easier to operate than in my office."

Dennis started working with Pre-Paid Legal in 2002. Initially he was hired on-site to administer free flu shots to employees, said Don West, vice president of human resources and facilities distribution for Pre-Paid Legal.

The company quickly expanded Dennis' services to include health screenings.

"That helped us work with them to assess what their current health was and take necessary steps to improve health," said West. "What we found was that it was a great benefit to our employees."

Supporting a rural office can have drawbacks.

West said many employees didn't have a primary physician, or they were making appointments with physicians in larger cities such as Oklahoma City and Norman.

In some cases employees who were not getting proper care would end up at an emergency room for an untreated illness, he said.

"As an end result they were spending more time away from work and were really sick," said West. "It was reactive instead of being proactive."

In addition, health care costs continue to skyrocket each year, which lays a burden on self-insured companies.

Pre-Paid Legal mapped out its plan to move into a $30 million facility in 2003. When planning the transition, West said, the company saw a benefit to opening an on-site clinic with Dennis running the operation.

Dennis, who still operates his private practice, now works at Pre- Paid Legal five days per week.

"We can really focus on the problem and the most efficient way to manage it," said Dennis. "Over the years we have seen fewer of those catastrophic diseases, which have helped save health care dollars."

As companies look for ways to curb health care costs, on-site clinics are starting to become a practical option.

Pre-Paid Legal has 800 corporate employees, all with access to the on-site clinic. Employees are able to see the doctor and get back to work in about 20 minutes, said West. …