SOUTH BEND -- Starting as soon as this summer, South Bend schools employees covered by the district's health insurance will likely be able to pop into an on- or near-site clinic to get physical exams and other preventive services.
The clinic will also be manned with medical professionals who can treat acute illnesses, like strep throat or influenza.
And all the services will be provided at no charge.
South Bend's school board voted 6-1 on Monday to allow the administration to proceed with negotiating a contract with Activate Healthcare, an Indianapolis-based firm, to establish and operate an on-site clinic.
Board member Bill Sniadecki cast the lone dissenting vote.
He said he's not necessarily against one provider and in favor of another, but he'd like more research to be done to ensure the school district is getting the best services at the best price.
At a meeting a month ago, the board voted to table the matter.
Four board members said they still had too many unanswered questions to give the administration the go-ahead to contract with Activate.
Apparently, those concerns were answered.
Dawn Jones, newly elected board secretary, voted in favor of the measure, but she did question whether employees who aren't covered by the district's health insurance could also use the clinic, perhaps for a fee.
Representatives from the insurance committee, who came up with the recommendation, said it's a possibility that issue could be revisited a year or so after the clinic has been open.
Two community members spoke asking the board to put off the decision about contracting with Activate until more research can be done.
District officials believe an on-site clinic will save on health care expenditures by aiding those who visit in staying healthy and thereby reducing medical claims.
The agreement with Activate calls for the school corporation to pay a monthly fee of about $25 for each of the roughly 5,700 employees and covered dependents who will be eligible to use it.
South Bend schools would also share the money it saves in health care expenditures with Activate.
Staff writer Kim Kilbride: