Mountaire opens employee health center in Selbyville

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of the Mountaire Health & Wellness Center in Selbyville.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of the Mountaire Health & Wellness Center in Selbyville.Mountaire has always been known for poultry. Now, it wants to be known for health, too.

The Mountaire Health & Wellness Center opened at 85 Hosier Street recently, available to all of Mountaire’s Selbyville factory workers, and their dependents, who are on company health insurance.

“We say our employees are our most valuable asset,” said Mike Tirrell, vice president of Human Resources and Business Services. “We put our money where our mouth is.”

“The center will be staffed by Premise Health, with one physician, one registered nurse and two medical assistants,” the company noted. “The clinic will support Mountaire’s goal to provide employees with access to high-quality health services, and promote a culture of health and wellness.”

Previously, the Selbyville staff were allowed to use the Millsboro facility’s health center, which opened almost exactly four years ago. (The North Carolina’s facility’s health center opened last year.)

Tirrell couldn’t say how many Selbyville employees are eligible, but “most people have our insurance. A large percentage,” he said of their employees.

Premise Health will operate the actual clinic, providing primary care, urgent care, wellness services, immunizations and more.

The clinic has four exam rooms (including gynecology equipment) and a procedure room (which can monitor patients during a more serious issue).

The clinic can draw blood and send it directly to the lab, free of charge, even if a patient’s outside doctor ordered the test, said Wendy Holt, on-site nurse manager.

“This is going to be — if the employee wants it — their primary doctor,” Holt said. An on-site physician can write referrals and prescriptions, “which is really great for the patient.”

A lot of people don’t have a primary-care physician, even relying on the emergency room for minor but pressing issues, Tirrell said. The Mountaire facility may provide some people’s first preventative care in a long time, he added.

Mountaire’s clinic can fill that gap, or just fill in if employees can’t get an outside appointment soon enough.

There is no co-pay. The clinic has a bilingual staffer, plus LanguageLine.

“The costs of healthcare are skyrocketing,” said former employee and state Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (Georgetown). “To have a facility like this, where families can come in and get … real comprehensive health care, is a great thing.”

The Health & Wellness Center is open Monday to Friday. There are late hours Tuesday and Thursday, since employees work different shifts, too.

“It looks so much smaller from the outside!” Holt marveled.

This is especially good for the community, since the workers are processing raw food, said state Rep. Ruth Briggs King (Georgetown).

“As an employee, someone who works for Mountaire, [this shows] why it’s a company that people want to be part of,” said Sean McKeon, Mountaire community relations.

“Our goal is to provide quality and efficient healthcare services, reduce the overall cost of healthcare, and help our employees make healthy choices that will improve the quality of life for themselves and their dependents,” Tirrell added.

Now 100 years old, Mountaire Corporation is still family-owned and based in Arkansas.