Thursday, April 19, 2018
Health

Tarpon Springs clashes with hospital over employee clinic

TARPON SPRINGS — Leaders at the local branch of Florida Hospital clashed with city leaders last week over whether Tarpon Springs should include the hospital in its plan to build a health clinic for city employees.

The clinic, which would be built in partnership with Oldsmar and the Florida League of Cities, would be designed to provide better health care access for city employees, encourage preventive care and possibly save money on health premiums.

But leaders at Florida Hospital North Pinellas confronted city leaders Tuesday about what they considered to be a terrible oversight. As the city's biggest employer, they argued, doesn't the hospital deserve to be a part of the agreement?

"I'm just livid, I apologize, I was not intending to be this angry," Michael Kouskoutis, a hospital board member said during a Tuesday night commission meeting. "We have physicians, we have hospitals, we have surgical teams that are a benefit to this community. And given the chance, we would love to sit down about providing services for city employees. But you know what? No one asked, and that's shameful."

Paul Hoover, vice president of business development for Florida Hospital North Pinellas, told commissioners the hospital could likely provide better services than a clinic because it's open more hours and has more doctors.

But similar clinics around the state, including one in Tampa and one shared by Clearwater and Dunedin, have reaped thousands of dollars in savings for cities and have been popular with city employees and their families.

The clinic would work like this: The League of Cities, which insures the city through United Healthcare, would pay startup costs and hire a vendor to manage the clinic. Employees would be encouraged to get routine medical care and wouldn't have to take sick time from work to do so.

The clinic would operate 12 hours per week, and employees could get free visits and generic medications. The idea is to decrease insurance claims and pass that savings on to the cities in the form of lower premiums.

Due to their lopsided number of employees, Tarpon Springs and the smaller city of Oldsmar would split the roughly $2,000 cost of a lease 70-30. The office space under consideration is on U.S. 19 south of Alderman Road.

Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie said no final decisions on the clinic have been made, and there could still be time to broker an agreement that makes the hospital happy. But he also defended the city's handling of the proposal.

"I have not seen (the hospital) come and offer any type of services to the city in terms of trying to help our employees here, and I think this goes two ways," he said. "I don't want to have an adversarial relationship with the hospital."

City Manager Mark LeCouris seemed angry at the attempt to derail the existing plan, which has been in the works for several months. He said the city should proceed with the clinic as planned.

"It doesn't make much sense to scuttle this," LeCouris said. "You're just hurting the employees of the city, that's all you're doing."

Joe Roseto, Clearwater's human resources director, estimates Clearwater nets more than a million dollars in savings per year because employees are getting preventive care and filing fewer and less expensive claims.

Several city employees have also blocked early-stage cancers and other ailments that might have been more serious and expensive if they hadn't seen a doctor early, he said.

"You save in the claims," he said. "But the big savings will come if you can save on catastrophic care."

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 323-0353.

Comments
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18
Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Some older patients suffer memory loss after surgery. Why does that happen?

Two years ago, Dr. Daniel Cole’s 85-year-old father had heart bypass surgery. He hasn’t been quite the same since."He forgets things and will ask you the same thing several times," said Cole, a professor of clinical anesthesiology at UCLA and a past ...
Published: 04/13/18
Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Morning person or night owl? Study indicates which may have higher risks of dying sooner.

Like staying up late? A new study suggests night owls burning the midnight oil could be more at risk for developing certain health complications, including fatal ones.The study, conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the U...
Published: 04/12/18