CHI Memorial taking over

The city of LaFayette will follow Walker County's lead and move its current employee health clinic (pictured) away from the local worksite clinic to CHI Memorial on Jan. 2, 2018.

The city of LaFayette will follow the soon-to-be-announced lead of Walker County government in closing the employee health clinic and begin working with CHI Memorial.

The matter was voted on during the Monday, Dec. 11, council meeting.

The current worksite clinic is located at 101 South Duke Street in LaFayette.

After the county decided to go with Memorial, having the city follow that lead would be beneficial, City Manager David Hamilton said.

One of the things Memorial is bringing to the table, Hamilton said, is that city employees can use either the CHI-run clinic in LaFayette or the one in Chickamauga.

Services will be available at the CHI clinics 36 hours per week — including Saturdays — as opposed to what the county and the city have now.

"I'm recommending that we move our employee clinic to CHI Memorial effective Jan. 2," Hamilton said.

Mayor Andy Arnold said the move would benefit everyone..

"I think it is going to be a little more cost-effective ... and there are two locations," Arnold said.

Not only will both locations be available to the city employees, they will be better equipped, Arnold said.

Tough decision

Arnold said the original clinic did a "great job" and served its purpose, but the benefits of change would be best for the city.

"It is with some reserve that I have, but it is just what has to occur," he said.

Councilman Ben Bradford objected the move.

Bradford said he did not have anything against Memorial, that it does "good work" and is managed by "good people."

However, he feels this hurts small businesses as larger corporations continue to move across the country and affect small businesses.

"I really do not like that, when I go to the doctor, I have to sit there and there's three people in the room. There's me, there's my doctor and there is the invisible agent of the man that is sitting there telling me what I can do, what I can't do, what my insurance will pay for and making these decisions that I have no control over," Bradford said. "Health care is becoming more and more mechanized and impersonalized. It's instead an industry that should be very personal and very intimate and instead, it's the exact opposite."

Councilwoman Judy Meeks said she respects Bradford's opinion on the subject and praised the current clinic's work, but said she sees the benefit of having after-hours care, something that is not now available.

"I hate to do them like this, but you know we have access to weekends, when people are sick after hours," Meeks said.

Meeks added that going with CHI allows city employees and their families to have lab work and X-rays conducted "on the spot."

"We don't have to go anywhere else to do that," Meeks said.

Arnold added that this is a tough decision, but that's what elected officials get elected to do.

With Councilmen Wayne Swanson and Chris Davis absent from the meeting, the motion to take the CHI Memorial proposal passed 2-to-1.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.