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School Board Approves Lease For Employee Health Center

Schools Superintendent John Ravally tells the school board about the Warrior Health Center proposal.

In a move it hopes will cut health care costs for its employees, the Board of Education on October 20 approved a long-term lease for office space that will be used as a health center.

The Franklin Township Public Schools Warrior Health Center at 61 Veronica Avenue is expected to be operational sometime next year.

The lease for the approximately 11,000-square-foot space is estimated to cost about $25,000 per month. The district will also kick in half of the estimated $2 million cost to renovate the space for medical use.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the cost will be made up by the savings in health care costs the district realizes.

District Business Administrator Brian Bonano said the district pays about $1 million a month in health care claims.

The Warrior center will be a one-stop health care shop for district employees and their families. Services planned to be offered include family practitioners, x-rays, physical therapy, lab services, and mental health services.

The center will also house a pharmacy.

There will be no co-pay for office visits or prescriptions, Ravally said.

The lease’s term is 12 years and four months. Ravally said there will be no rent charged for four months.

The base rent is $16 per square foot, with an additional $10.50 to $11.50 for incidental costs such as taxes and insurances, he said.

The rent can be increased by 50 cents per square foot after year two, and the lease provides for three, 5-yerar extensions, he said.

Ravally said the concept of self-insured school districts opening their own health clinics has been around a while. Toms River has had such a center for the last 10 years, he said.

Opening a health center as part of the district’s self-insurance program, Ravally said, “reduces barriers to health care for the staff. You have a healthier staff and families overall, which means at the end, you reduce the overall claims cost.”

“Everyone benefits,” he said. “We have a reduction in cost of claims through the use of dedicated local providers, you have reduced cost of care, you have convenient access. You have a variety of services available right on site, under one roof family practitioner, physical therapy, laboratory services, x-rays, pharmacy all under one roof, you have no co-pays for appointments of prescriptions.”

There is a similar health center in Somerville, and one is opening soon in South Brunswick, Ravally said. He said Franklin district employees can use those facilities while the Warrior Health Clinic is being fitted out.

“Healthier people lead to a reduction in having to spend money on benefits, which means we can spend that money elsewhere, like in the classroom,” Ravally said.

Ravally said if the estimated savings don’t materialize, the district can fill the gap with its health care reserve account.

Ravally said this center will have no impact on the health clinic at Hillcrest School that is being administered by Zufall Health Services. That clinic, he said, is for students and their families, while the Warrior Health Center will be for district employees and their families.

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