GREENFIELD - Froedtert Health Systems and the school board here are establishing a health clinic at Greenfield High School for the district's employees, dependents and retirees. The clinic will open this fall.

Board members on March 27 unanimously approved the project.

Mark Kapocious, the district's director of human services, estimated the clinic will cost the district about $200,000 per year to operate. He expects that after three years the district will begin to reap annual savings of more than $200,000.

"We're both in it together," Kapocious said of employees. He said the district hopes to "slow the growth (of costs) and improve care."

Kapocious said 341 district employees are eligible for health care coverage and 312 take it, paying 10 percent of the cost.

When retirees and employees' dependents are added, he said 913 persons are covered by the district. He said district spends $5.6 million per year on health care, its second largest expense.

Employees will not be required to use the new clinic. But Kapocious voiced confidence that "it would be convenient for the vast majority of employees," especially if the agreement can include coverage for employees to use Froedtert's Fastcare clinics located in Meijer stores.

A Meijer store with a clinic is scheduled to open April 26 across the street from the high school.

"When it costs virtually nothing to see someone here," Kapocious predicted that most employees will use the clinic rather than costlier outpatient centers. "That's where you begin to real savings."

He added that district employees who don't qualify for health insurance "will be able to visit the clinic for a lot less than they would pay outside."

Before the agreement was reached, Kapocious said district officials consulted city officials in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, where Froedtert operates employee clinics, and received favorable reports. He also believes that "the familiarity of Froedtert and respect for the name would make (employees) more receptive" to going there for care.

Ultimately, Kapocious said the district is trying to "bend the trend" and hold health care cost increases check while taking proactive steps to improve employee wellness.

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