Horry County employee wellness center to improve worker health, save taxpayer money

Location of the Horry County Employee Wellness Center, 128 Professional Park Drive.

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Council leaders say overall the employees in Horry County are unhealthy, and in order to save money, they need to make changes.

News13 first introduced the county’s idea of creating a Wellness Center for employees in late March. Council members approved the center as a way to help county employees monitor their health and save money traditionally spend on doctor visits.

Work is underway now on that center, which will be located at 128 professional park drive in Conway. County leaders say that the biggest benefit is that it won’t cost employees anything to visit the health center, which will provide basic health needs.

“Instead of us taking our time out of the day going to a minute clinic, let’s say spending an hour or two waiting to be seen, then actually having to still pay with your state health insurance card, this will be a free service for county employees,” says Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Bourcier.

The employee wellness center will be available for all 2,200 county workers, but not family members.

Three staff members are being hired by an outside company to man the center – a nurse practitioner, medical assistant, and a wellness coach.

“It will operate like a clinic,” describes Bourcier. “It will take appointments and it will see employees for basically acute care, sick visits, physicals, lab work, write prescriptions and make referrals to other physicians.”

The wellness coach will also be tasked with gathering information on the overall health of all participating employees with a health risk assessment.

“To see where we are unhealthy and what we can do to have better programs to make our employees healthier,” explains Bourcier.

The data will be confidentially compiled to give a better picture of what is ailing Horry County employees.

“And that way, we can really gauge to see if, you know, 20% of our staff is hypertension or kind of what they suffer from,” justifies Bourcier.

County leaders say the ultimate goal of the wellness center is to create healthier employees and ultimately save money for taxpayers.

“Right now, we’re in the state health insurance plan,” says Bourcier. “A lot of that is dictated by the state on what we pay and sometimes the unhealthier you are the more you do pay.”

And it could open up new opportunities for healthcare options down the line.

“Over years,  if we do see our workforce become healthier, that is something where we could look at other alternatives to health insurance, maybe not just the state health plan, maybe there’s other plans that we would qualify for that would be a reduction to taxpayers in the long run,” predicts Bourcier.

The Wellness Center is expected to open late July or early August.

The center was made possible after funds were put aside in last year’s budget, eliminating the use of taxpayer money this year. It will cost $800,000 to run annually.