UNC Health Care Partners with Chapel Hill to Provide Care to Town Employees

A new program has been established to provide worksite wellness programs and minor illness care to Town of Chapel Hill employees.

Chapel Hill Wellness@Work was established through a collaborative partnership between the Town of Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care’s Department of Family Medicine. It is designed to provide comprehensive health and wellness programs for the employees of the Town of Chapel Hill in an effort to promote and maintain healthy lifestyles. While improving overall employee health, the program could potentially result in significant health care cost savings for the Town and its 660 full-time employees.

“We believe that easy access to basic preventative health services and education can help employees better manage their health needs, while reducing medical costs,” said Town Manager Roger Stancil. “We developed this novel idea with our hometown partners because we are committed to improving the health of our workforce.”

Due to the robust nature of the program and the establishment of a dedicated employee wellness clinic, the Town has already been able to negotiate with Blue Cross and Blue Shield a reduction in its insurance premiums by about $100,000.

“This partnership helps us continue to provide excellent benefits to our employees so we can continue to attract top talent," said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. "Further, it is a cost savings for the taxpayers and the Town."

The comprehensive wellness programs, aimed at preventing and managing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, will be developed in collaboration with representatives from the Town employees. Programs will be tailored to the specific needs of the Town’s workforce based on information from voluntary health risk assessments of Town employees, and in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Wellness programs may focus on topics such as tobacco cessation, weight loss, proper nutrition, and developing other healthy habits.

The employee wellness clinic will provide on-site minor illness and injury care at no cost to employees. The clinic will also offer educational resources to teach employees about healthy lifestyles and focus on reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions.  

The new employee health clinic will be staffed with a full-time nurse practitioner, Jennie Petruney, BSN, ANP, employed by UNC Health Care and the Department of Family Medicine. UNC Health Care and the Town of Chapel Hill will open the clinic in July at a temporary location, on the first level of the Town’s Housing Department facility on Caldwell Street. A permanent clinic location will open at a future date at the Town Operations Center facility off Millhouse Road.

“Our goal is to work collaboratively with the Town of Chapel Hill to design and implement wellness programs that are meaningful and targeted to the needs of the Town employees,” UNC Hospitals President Gary Park. “We do not intend to replace the employee’s primary care physician, but rather to provide additional resources and education to enhance their care.  Providing on-site care for minor illnesses and injuries can also help employees minimize lost time at work.”

The program will also establish a web-based health information portal where employees can schedule appointments, interact with the nurse practitioner, view their own voluntary health assessment data and access health education resources. A future occupational health component will focus on the coordination of Worker’s Compensation care and preventative maintenance examinations.

Details of Chapel Hill Wellness@Work were designed by a Town-UNC collaborative work group involving Town staff members Jim Orr of the Parks and Recreation Department, Police Capt. Jackie Carden, and Heather Robinson of the Fire Department, working together with UNC Department of Family Medicine representatives Dr. Mark Gwynne, Medical Director,  Dr. Sam Weir, Family Medicine Center Director, Ronald Lingley, Associate Chair for Administration, Todd Meath, Network Administrator, Jennie Petruney, Nurse Practitioner, Julea Steiner, Project Manager, and Kevin Tate, Senior Analyst.

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