Methodist, Decatur hospitals team up at Honda site: Providers supplying on-site, off-site health care to construction workers on $500 million auto plant project

July 16, 2007

A major construction project is like a football game-no matter how careful everyone is, sooner or later someone is going to get hurt, at least a little.

Indianapolis-based Methodist Occupational Health Centers Inc., which is part of Clarian Health Partners, is partnering with Decatur County Memorial Hospital to provide an answer to this problem at the Honda automobile plant construction site in Greensburg. The two institutions are providing on-site medical services and offsite treatment facilities for workers at the $550 million project.

During peak times, as many as 3,000 construction workers will work on the project, which won't be completed until late next year.

After opening, the plant will eventually employ 2,000 workers and produce 200,000 vehicles a year.

"The builders wanted quick access to medical care for the workers," said Scott Weaver, Methodist's director of marketing.

The program the two hospitals are in is called an owner-controlled insurance program, or OCIP, which ordinarily is set up by a project's general manager to pool together all, or at least most, of the health care costs of all the contractors and their employees. In the Honda project's case, the OCIP was set up by Global Performance, which is the general contractor.

The advantage of an OCIP is that it puts most, if not all, of a project's contractors under the umbrella of a single, fixed-price, medical insurance program. This allows the builders to budget health care costs as a single, defined expense instead of a series of variable costs, depending on what happens with each individual subcontractor, according to Tom Brink, president and CEO of Methodist Occupational Health Centers.

By having a combined, comprehensive medical program, a builder can save up to 10 percent on insurance premiums, Brink noted.

As part of the Honda project's OCIP, Methodist and Decatur provide an onsite medical office that is staffed with either a registered nurse or an emergency medical technician, or both, round the clock. Weaver said the site office can treat minor injuries and determine whether some injuries are serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room.

The facility also offers pre-employment drug testing, safety assessments and well ness programs to the project workers. The goal is to provide a seamless health care program for the project, Weaver said.

Since work on the Honda plant started last December, the onsite office has treated or evaluated 50 injuries. Weaver said none were life-threatening, though a number of workers did end up requiring treatment at Decatur's emergency room.

The facility also has conducted more than 2,000 drug screens, he added.

Brink said Methodist was approached by the builders to run the OCIP because of its long-running experience in occupational health and in the provision of onsite medical programs. Methodist also has been involved in OCIPs before-three times for Clarian-related projects and once for a construction project undertaken by Eli Lilly and Co.

Weaver said Methodist selected Decatur partly because its location in Greensburg meant it was only three miles from the construction site, which allows it to conveniently provide emergency room services, X-rays, follow-up care and physical therapy to workers from the site.

In addition, Clarian is involved in several medical programs with Decatur, so there already was a working relationship. That was important, Brink said.

"If someone is injured enough for the emergency room, we want to make sure we can coordinate with the affiliated provider," Brink said.

Diane McKinney, vice president of patient care services at Decatur, said her hospital was eager to participate in the OCIP with Methodist.

"They're expert in providing occupational health services," she said. Decatur, of course, can provide the more elaborate medical facilities that can't be offered at the work site, McKinney said.

"It's the best of both worlds," she said.

"As the primary health care provider in our local community, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide service to a new community business partner," said Bill Alloy, Decatur's CEO. "The efficiencies and flexibility demonstrated in this health care partnership mirror those anticipated in the client's commitment to the area," he said.

Big construction projects, of course, always have had to make some kind of provision for medical care of the employees. What's different about an OCIP, Weaver said, is preparation.

"This was a planned operation; it wasn't cobbled together after the fact," he said.
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