How wellness companies are providing their services to big businesses
Dennis J. Carradin Jr. was at the New Castle County Courthouse within minutes after Thomas Matusiewicz opened fire on his former daughter-in-law and her friend in the crowded lobby in February 2013.
Carradin is a traumatic stress counselor for New Perspectives Inc. in Wilmington, one of dozens of health-related companies that corporate human-resource departments have on speed-dial.
When an assembly-line worker is injured or an employee comes face-to-face with a robber, there’s a financial ripple effect across Delaware. Dozens of niche companies serve the health needs of other companies.
Carradin, who serves as clinical director for New Castle County’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team, said the Matusiewicz incident could have been far worse if the Capitol Police, who work in all courthouses and state buildings, had not contained it in one section of the lobby. The team of professionals and trained volunteers talked to almost 40 workers on the spot.
“Part of a critical incident stress debriefing is to discuss the incident ““ what was seen, felt, heard ““ and to allow the participants to cathartically vent their thoughts and emotions,” he said.
Because waiting for treatment can increase symptoms of anxiety, immediate response reduces disability claims for work-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Carradin and the team listened to workers and left them with some recommendations: “We preach a lot of health ““ trying to watch caffeine and caloric intake, talk a walk, moderate alcohol intake. We try to tell them, “˜Do right by your body because your body has just been battered.’ “
To keep witnesses from reliving the trauma, counselors talk about what to discuss with family and friends.
Dozens of Delaware entrepreneurs use their expertise to make money by saving money for other companies.
Kristin Motley, a registered pharmacist, began looking into pharmaceutical discounts because her grandmother couldn’t afford her medications. Now her five-year-old Wilmington company, Health Care Solutions, is helping five self-insured companies keep their drugs costs down.
Motley asks pharmaceutical manufacturers for discounts and applies to their assistance programs. On average, employers might pay $600 a month for an employee on one costly drug, but employees taking expensive cancer or hepatitis C medications could cost their companies $200,000 a year in prescription costs.
“We do all of the work. The employee doesn’t do anything. The employer doesn’t do anything. We contact the doctors’ offices and we contact the drug companies. We do everything,” said Motley, who didn’t want to mention her clients, adding, “The companies are really saving a lot of money and they don’t want their competitors to know.”
Motley now offers programs in weight management, stress management and smoking cessation. She does one-on-one consultations to assure patients are taking their meds properly. “When employees are healthier, they use the health insurance more efficiently. They’re not having heart attacks and strokes because they are living a healthier lifestyle,” she said “I knew that we could provide solutions to help companies save on health costs.”
When a warehouse worker is injured, chances are his employer calls Work Pro Occupational and Employee Health in Wilmington for physician services. With a client base of more than 500 companies, Work Pro serves some of the state’s largest employers.
With five clinical sites in Delaware, Work Pro can treat an employee injured on the job, give a truck driver a federally mandated physical or administer all the shots an executive needs to travel around the world.
With several corporate headquarters in Delaware, travel medicine is a good niche here, Work Pro’s Director of Operations Ray Breswick said. The company also does drug and alcohol testing.
“From Walmart to the City of Wilmington, companies use Work Pro to manage their health care costs,” Breswick said. “It’s much more cost-effective than sending someone to the ER for an injury,” he said. “Our objective is to keep employees healthy and productive.”
CardioKinetics’ nine-foot-high vans travel from workplace to workplace with medical equipment inside, but they are just one part of the business that has grown to just under $2 million in revenue over the last 37 years.
CardioKinetics, a licensed medical provider, supplies physicians and technicians to well over 100 companies. Their corporate clients have anywhere from four to 18,000 employees, and their 30 full-time employees have worked in 26 states, Mexico and the Bahamas.
Ninety percent of CardioKinetics’s business is in Delaware, though. Iconic employers such as Delmarva Power, Delaware State Police and Wilmington University use their services.
Owner Tom Hall said dozens of executives have been saved over almost four decades because a company technician or one of its contract physicians spotted a problem and got the patient to a cardiologist pronto.
Unlimited-time executive physicals, costing $800 to $1,200, have become a big part of their business. It’s a top-to-bottom approach ““ basic physical, treadmill stress test, eye check, hearing booth, prostate exam, mole check, flexibility tests and a lower back assessment. “You get as much time as you want with our doctor,” Hall said. “It’s what old-time medicine used to be.”
Once, said Hall, a CardioKinetics employee spotted a heart problem while examining a state police officer. The employee put the officer in his police cruiser and drove the cruiser to an emergency room. En route, he called a cardiologist who was waiting at the door when the officer arrived. He was cauterized that day.
Ten years later, he’s retired and doing well, Hall said.
“If an executive, even of a small business, dies or becomes disabled as the result of a heart attack, that business will suffer greatly,” said Hall.
Fat cats are a thing of the corporate past. Lee Bunting, executive director of the Central YMCA, said almost 30 percent of his members are executive level. Many companies pay for part of all of their employees’ membership costs.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is seeing an increase in the number of companies that taking advantage of wellness programs they offer for their insured. More than 300,000 insureds working at Delaware companies now take advantage of one of Highmark’s extensive collection of health programs offered as part of insurance overage ““ from smoking cessation to health coaches. Highmark health coaches are registered nurses who work with members on their personal health goals.
“It is very important to catch things early when they are treatable, and the outcome is much better and with a much lower cost,” said Anna Silberman, vice president of clinical client relations at Highmark. “It used to be wellness was a pamphlet. It was something companies did for public relations, to look good. Today, it’s really mainstream primary care. We are our own best physicians.”
Highmark can deliver health services in person or even by phone ““ even on an oilrig moored in the
Even companies that don’t advertise themselves as health-related benefit from the corporate push for employee health.
In the last week, Tom Harvey, owner of Wooden Wheels in Newark, sold three bikes to people who told him they need to get some exercise or lose some weight and they chose bicycling because it’s low-impact.
“I’ve seen people get into it and just change their lives. A guy who was in the other day ““ he lost 80 pounds riding his bike. Now he’s fit,” Harvey said. “That’s a pretty regular thing that we see here on a weekly basis.”