ALBANY — CDTA’s 700 employees can get free health care at a new on-site health center designed to keep them healthy and, in the process, reduce the costs of their health care.
The clinic saw its first employee/patient Monday and was formally introduced Tuesday at a news conference held by the regional transit agency and by Albany health insurer CDPHP, which is partnering with CDTA on the project.
Family Nurse Practitioner Jocelyn Cappozzo is the sole staffer, working full-time to provide treatment for minor illness and injury, flu shots and health counseling, as well as keeping CDTA in compliance with the regulatory framework placed on public transit providers.
The first patient visits this week fall in the latter category — random drug screening, new employee physicals, employee re-certifications. Full wellness services will follow, CDTA CEO Carm Basile said.
“They’ll get tips and tools to monitor their health and really become active participants in quality health care,” he said.
About 500 employees are based at CDTA’s Watervliet Avenue headquarters in Albany, while about 100 each work at satellite garages to the northeast in Troy and the northwest in Schenectady.
The Schenectady and Troy employees don’t work terribly far from the Albany office, and most also don’t live terribly far, but a means will be sought to bridge the distance and engage them, Basile said.
It is in some ways a return to a model seen more often in the 20th century, under which some companies maintained clinics at their largest worksites as a fringe benefit to employees and as a productivity booster for employer.
“We all know that a strong healthy workforce is essential,” said CDPHP President and CEO Dr. John Bennett, adding that illness-related absenteeism costs U.S. employers $225 billion a year.
Improved employee health is the short-term expectation. Lower health care costs for these healthier employees is the longer-term hope, said Basile and Bennett, whose conversations two years ago were the seed that grew into the CDTA health center that went live this week.
“After listening to John for about 5 or 10 minutes, that’s all I took, I was hooked,” Basile said.
Bennett’s pitch was based directly on the in-house health center created by Precision Valve Automation, a Latham-based manufacturer that runs a primary care clinic and physical therapy office on-site.
PVA founder and President Tony Hynes, who spoke at Tuesday’s news conference, has detailed the benefits repeatedly over the years: A healthier workforce with lower turnover rates and limited increases in the cost of health insurance that PVA provides to its employees.
The new CDTA employee clinic is a $250,000 retrofit of a meeting room adapted from the model of PVA’s clinic.
It is projected to expand to include an on-site physical therapist as well.