What is in this article?:
- SN Whole Health: C&K Shifts Focus From Treatment to Prevention
- Expanding Medical Care Access
- Sidebar: Walking to London
At C&K Market, health care is an inside job
2012 Biggest C&K Loser team from the Ray’s in Merlin, Ore. Photos courtesy of C&K Market
Expanding Medical Care Access
A second key aspect of the retailer’s health care platform seeks to address costs associated with its mostly rural market area. Many employees didn’t have easy access to immediate medical care, and were using hospital emergency rooms for basic services.
“We do business in a lot of smaller, rural areas and access to health care is an issue,” said Nidiffer. “One of the biggest expenses we saw were ER visits, which are very costly.”
C&K’s Medical Home program remedies this situation by recruiting primary care physicians in the region and placing them on a retainer, of sorts. In return for an annual fee, plus any applicable co-pays, these doctors agree to see participating C&K employees on a same-day basis and to encourage preventative exams like physicals and mammograms, which are free. Currently more than 300 employees participate in the Medical Home plan, cared for by more than 400 doctors.
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One of the most creative elements of Healthy Choices is the new Helping Hands fund. Seeded with $10,000 donated by C&K, the financial aid program is available to any store associate facing hardship or extended illness. Applicants complete a simple, one-page questionnaire that is reviewed by a five-person panel. Most awards to date have averaged less than $1,000.
“In this economy many people are living close to the line, and if you miss a week of work that’s really are going to set you back,” said Christi Loring, C&K’s benefits director.
C&K has promised to match employee contributions up to $50,000 per year. Posters tacked up in break rooms are promoting the fund and urge employees to voluntarily donate a few dollars per week to the effort.
“What we’re trying to get people to do is a direct debit of something like $2 a paycheck,” said Loring. “Our message has been that if everyone throws in $2, that works out to $200,000 a year. The point is that, if we all chip in a little, we can do a lot.”
Helping Hands has become popular. Just recently, the panel approved a request from a relatively new employee who had burned herself while working at one of the stores. Workers’ compensation covered her treatment, but the employee still faced a financial challenge from being out of work.
“She came to us and said she was in danger of losing her housing because she would be missing a number of days at work,” said Loring. “It was a relatively small amount just so she could get through the rest of the month.”
Healthy Choices gets further support from a printed monthly newsletter that follows a theme, and includes coupons for healthful foods and information on free health services in each market area. Nidiffer said the entire effort has empowered employees to take charge of their own health, with visible results.
“We’ve actually seen an improvement in the overall level of health with our employees,” he said.