Marathon County & North Central Health Care (NCHC) Partner for Better Employee Health

Written by Brad Karger

Good health reduces the cost of government and increases employee productivity.

NorthCentralHealthFoundationMarathon County Government and North Central Health Care (NCHC) leaders know the benefits of having a healthier workforce, so they’ve partnered to open a new onsite clinic for County employees in April 2018.

Dubbed the Employee Health and Wellness Center, the clinic will be located near the County Health Department on the NCHC Campus. The center will be staffed by Aspirus medical professionals and open 40 hours per week, including some evening hours.

Skeptical that healthy employees really have an impact on productivity?

Here is some of what we’ve learned:

  • Employees who eat healthy are 25% more likely to have higher job performance.1
  • Absenteeism is 27% lower for employees who eat healthy and who exercise regularly.2
  • Overweight employees file twice the number of Workers’ Compensation claims.3

The new clinic will be all about promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging preventative healthcare services.

WCA-Group Health TrustThe types of services that will be available to County employees — free of charge to those on the Wisconsin Counties Association–Group Health Trust (WCA-GHT) plan — and generally on a same-day basis include:

  • Treatment of common health conditions (e.g., colds, influenza, ear aches, bug bites, minor wounds, infections)
  • Annual physicals
  • Chronic condition support
  • Health monitoring
  • Lab services (e.g., strep tests, flu screening, pregnancy tests)
  • Wellness care (e.g., screening, fitness assessment, education, goal setting, wellness advice)

The County’s health insurer, WCA-GHT, provided the early leadership in forming the onsite clinic. Their experience with other public entities that created onsite clinics is:

  • Increased use of wellness initiatives (e.g., the County’s Weight Watchers At Work program) and more preventative health care (e.g., an annual physical exam)
  • Better management of chronic conditions that need regular check-ins
  • Improved medication compliance

blood pressure cuff

WCA-GHT has also found that the onsite clinics are very popular employee benefits, thus improving employee satisfaction with the benefit package provided to them.

aspirus_logoThe Aspirus medical staff will be paid by WCA-GHT and NCHC for their time and materials. The lead medical provider, Sherry Gatewood, is a Physician’s Assistant, resulting in some cost savings from physician fees. Additionally, because of the way Aspirus is compensated, there is no revenue margin placed on top of the cost of the service provided.

Marathon County has had tremendous success in containing the cost of employee health care. Credit WCA-GHT, our Wellness Committee, and Health Coach Asia Bay for a very active and effective wellness program at the County.

In fact, we’ve been so successful that the cost of the County’s family coverage in 2018 is less than it was in 2011! These investments provide a financial return in addition to the health benefits gained.

Now, with the opening of Marathon County’s Employee Health and Wellness Center, we’re well positioned to keep our positive momentum going, further reducing the cost of government and increasing employee productivity.

I can hardly wait to cut the ribbon!


1Brooks, C. (2013, January 8). You are what you eat…Even at work. Business News Daily. Retrieved from

2Brooks, C. (2013, January 8). You are what you eat…Even at work. Business News Daily. Retrieved from

3Mehr, C. (2013, November 6). Workplaces taking on the cost of obesity with weight control programs. People Keep. Retrieved from

Brad Karger - Marathon County AdministratorBrad Karger

Marathon County Administrator

In his Administrator role, Brad Karger leads an organization with 700+ employees and an annual budget of more than $165 million. Brad has been in leadership positions with Marathon County for the past 30 years. He is known statewide for generating innovative ideas and solutions to problems, openness and transparency, and a commitment to community service that extends well beyond the normal workday.  Email Brad Karger.

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Image Credits

Stethoscope image by rawpixel via Pixabay.

Blood pressure image by stevepb via Pixabay.