Troup County Clinic: A public-private primary care collaboration to improve community health and well-being
Learn how WeCare tlc supports a local Georgia college and community government to care for their employees and reduce healthcare costs
With over 15 years of experience implementing and managing primary care health centers, we are proud to support communities in structuring public-private primary care collaborations to improve employee health and reduce expenses.
Join us as we explore how we are helping a local college and community government improve the quality of healthcare and overall well-being of their employees, students and staff, plus how the local community is positively affected.
Industry: Education and Government
Client: LaGrange College and Troup County Georgia
Location: LaGrange, Georgia
Serving: 1,000 employees including students
In 2011, Edward Smith, President of Hutchinson Traylor, was the benefits advisor for LaGrange College and Troup County Georgia—two clients within two miles of each other in a small town of 35,000 people. Both clients were self-insured and struggling with increasing costs for different reasons. LaGrange College, a private four year institution, was dealing with shock claims and prescription drug inflation while the Troup County Georgia public government had many employees with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cardiometabolic syndrome.
In need of a solution, Dawn Coker, Former Head of Human Resources at LaGrange, partnered with Ricky Wolfe, Former Chairman of Troup County Commission, to create a long-term, strategically focused plan for an advanced primary care presence in LaGrange. They envisioned providing their employees with a small-town family doctor’s office where the doctors knew their patients and spent time assessing them before providing a proper diagnosis.
“We had a vision of what we wanted and a lot of it was driven by what our employees wanted and what they needed. We knew we had a lot of employees that just weren’t taking care of their health, so we just wanted to create a place where they felt safe and took care of themselves, but we knew we couldn’t do it in a way that added cost. We started looking around for a solution but it wasn’t too long into the process until we knew we did not have the skills or breadth of experience to run a healthcare clinic, so we started looking for who could partner with us to do that,” Dawn explained.
Before working to implement their public-private primary care collaboration plan, Dawn and Ricky identified common goals which included:
Delivering quality care
Improving overall population health
Keeping a local staff and focus, and
Reducing health care costs.
Dawn and Ricky’s overall goal was to create a convenient, private, accessible and transparent health care clinic that controlled costs while helping their employees stay healthy. The two worked with Edward who helped them find the perfect partner to achieve their objectives and vision: WeCare tlc.
“WeCare tlc was the only partner that came to us that was aligned with our philosophy. They also taught us a lot when they came to the table and broadened our vision. At the very elementary level, they came in and said: we can provide this care—wellness care, primary care—and we can do it in a transparent way and we can do it outside of a fee for service,” Dawn explained of their decision to choose WeCare tlc as their partner.
Once the partnership with WeCare tlc was officially established, it was only a few months until the Troup County Clinic opened its doors. The health center was established in a 2,400 square foot building with four exam rooms and a lab on the LaGrange College campus. Upon opening, WeCare tlc deployed a team to staff the clinic which included a Nurse Manager who helps run the operations of the health center.
As a private-public collaboration, Dawn and Ricky had to consider the LaGrange community as they established the Troup County Clinic.
Throughout the planning process, the team worked to ensure the local hospital and other health care professionals in their community stayed informed on their plans and didn’t feel like they were aiming to put them out of business. The team also assured the health care community that the clinic would still be partnering locally for referrals to specialists and services that they wouldn’t provide as an onsite primary care health center.
The student population
In order to use the health center, the employees of the college and county had to be enrolled in their employer’s health plan. If they were enrolled, there was no additional premium or cost to the employees to use the clinic.
However, unlike most onsite health centers, LaGrange College also had their students to consider in addition to their employees. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the college had a student health care policy that cost approximately $1,000 per school year, but the policy had to be discontinued. In an effort to support their students, LaGrange College approached WeCare tlc who worked with them to create a structure for the students to use the newly established advanced primary care health center. In this structure, the students were counted differently than regular employees because they weren’t on campus twelve months out of the year.
The students were charged the same amount to use the health center each year as they had been paying for the discontinued student health care policy. The student fee ended up offsetting LaGrange College’s staffing, medication and lab costs for the general employee population. “Adding the student population and counting them differently was an important flexibility that WeCare tlc gave us that we may not have been offered with a different partner,” Dawn said.
“The great thing about the student population adding more access to the health center was that while it was wonderful being able to offset expenses, there’s nobody who’s going to turn that down, it was also great to have more hours for the health center to be open for everybody,” explained Reagan Garber Le Douaron, President and CEO of WeCare tlc.
The Troup County Clinic enabled LaGrange College and Troup County Georgia to enact many other cost-containment strategies throughout the last decade. The positive effects of the health center were not only felt by those it served, but by the entire LaGrange community—tax increases didn’t occur, money saved was put to other budget priorities, pressure was taken off of overloaded primary care clinics, and clinicians were provided with a healthy working environment.
“This is the type of partnership that we love because we’re committed to trying to make change and truly trying to affect the outcomes and the cost of healthcare and so coming together with all of these creative ideas is exactly the kind of conversation that we like to have,” shared Reagan.
As a result of the investment in the Troup County Clinic, the following programs were added to employee benefits:
Reference based hospital prices
Voluntary early retirement
Benefit plan optimization.
Since the health center’s opening, the Troup County Clinic team has also continually reached out to other employer groups in the community about joining the health center, so they have full health center utilization and continue to make healthcare more accessible in LaGrange.