Webb Director provides update on county clinic - bdsthanhhoavn.com

Webb Director provides update on county clinic

Since its grand opening in August, the Webb County Clinic has facilitated a foundation of addressing health concerns for hundreds of county employees and their families.

Risk Management Director Dr. Pedro Alfaro said the project was an uphill battle to create something never before seen in the county and was a result of concise negotiations and stringent resource management.

During the last commissioners court meeting of May, Alfaro presented the most current information regarding the clinic’s impact. He outlined how the current membership of the employees’ insurance plan saw an increase of 856 members in 2018 to 2,317 as of May. According to the presentation, the strategy was to increase coverage benefits and provide the plan for spouses and family to increase enrollment.

Within the year, 829 ER visits were recorded by the risk management department with 351 of them being considered non-urgent. A major component of the creation of the clinic was to avoid the high cost of the ER visits for employees and the county, and to address employee concerns free of charge. Comparatively, its initial start began in 105 patients amid the pandemic with COVID testing, physicals, flu shots, diabetes checks and more.

Furthermore, he provided an update regarding telemedicine after it was suspended in 2019. Alfaro said it was suspended due to the low usage, with eight consultations in 2018 and 13 in 2019, but it made a highly demanded return amid the pandemic. As of May, 2,013 consultations have been provided, following the 2,329 consultations provided during the peak period of COVID-19.

However, he said a clinic of this scope hadn’t been done before, thus making the logistics difficult to predict how much it would cost to build. However, based off of what was utilized by county employees in terms of health services, those were the primary focuses the clinic would target. 


Prior to the clinic, coverage was at a 40%/60% split with high premiums and didn’t include spouses or dependents, with the county footing the 40%. During this time, Alfaro said a challenge was there were not enough individuals enrolled to disseminate the risk paying into the system without utilizing it.

The first idea was to lower the premiums, but that would leave no one to pay for the utilization. The insurance plan also did not allow for spouses or dependents, a change Alfaro was adamant on having moving forward.

Addressing these needs ultimately led Alfaro to negotiate with insurance companies and ask for proposals, with the help of health consultants, to find the best way forward in building the clinic addressing the needs and is affordable. Ultimately, Alfaro landed on two final proposals with Blue Cross and Blue Shield as well as Aetna. 

According to Alfaro, the project was kickstarted from a desire to address the prevailing health concerns among the community, primarily being diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting how your body turns food into energy; Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is blood pressure that is higher than normal; and Hyperlipidemia involves high cholesterol building in arteries and blocking the flow of blood, the CDC states.

His presentation indicated the Webb County population is reported to have 55% of utilizers having over seven drug therapies and make approximately 21 pharmacy visits per year for antidiabetics, analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications.

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