With the help of inmate labor, Hall County is progressing with renovations that will turn the old East Hall library branch in Rabbittown into a clinic and pharmacy serving county employees.
The HCG Family Health Center is now tentatively scheduled to open on Jan. 5 and will serve all county employees, retirees and their dependents covered by Hall’s health plans.
Human Resources Director Bill Moats said the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration must still inspect the clinic and pharmacy before it can open.
Moats said the clinic and pharmacy will be open Monday through Saturday, with half-day Wednesdays in order to free up a few Saturday hours, and closed on Sundays.
Meanwhile, The Longstreet Clinic is expanding its Comprehensive Care Program, which includes new “after-hours” availability.
Moats said county workers, rather than being treated at an urgent care clinic or the emergency room, can access clinical services Monday through Saturday until 9 p.m., and on Sundays until 8 p.m., at The Longstreet Clinic.
Copays will remain the same if employees are treated at Longstreet, but cost more for visits to specialty clinics and ERs.
Hall officials have said the move to open their own clinic and pharmacy will generate significant annual savings in the county’s health care costs.
Purported savings related to the clinic could stem from a reduction in the number of urgent and emergency care visits to the hospital by county workers.
And county officials expect to be able to purchase and distribute prescription drugs at a lower cost, though employees will not be prohibited from getting their medication from a retailer or seeing their own personal care physicians.
An effort to get the city of Gainesville to partner in opening the clinic and pharmacy was rejected, with city officials saying they intend to keep operating their own clinic off West Ridge Road.
The board approved $60,000 in funding for renovations at the former library branch, including the build-out of a pharmacy and waiting/exam rooms.
A conference room at the site might be available for continued use as an Election Day polling precinct, Moats said.
Moats said pharmacy deliveries will begin in mid- to late February and that a lead pharmacist has been hired.
In related news, the Board of Commissioners is expected to renew medical plan services with Cigna and United Healthcare this Thursday when it meets.
Costs for Cigna’s administrative services will increase 4 percent over the next three years, which Moats described as a “very favorable renewal.”