Health care building, site work starting soon

LANSDALE — Several important dates for the arrival of North Penn’s in-house district health hospital are fast approaching.

“We’re really close now to having an on-site health center for our employees,” said District CFO Steve Skrocki.

As of 2020, the school board has been discussing setting up a clinic between Penndale Middle School and an adjacent parking lot and would have a local employee from a statewide provider provide district staff with specific healthcare services for those who have the district’s healthcare plans. In August, the board rejected contracts for the site and construction work and awarded new bids for both in September, and staff said at the time the clinic could open by the end of the year or early 2023.

During their Oct. 11 finance committee meeting, Skrocki gave the school board an update: He and the staff had a pre-construction meeting in late September with the contractor making the modular building and the contractor doing the site work to get their schedules to discuss.

“Site work will start at the end of this month, in October. The modular unit will be held in the week of October 18th. go into production,” said Skrocki.

“Barring force majeure, that should be completed by November 17th. It’ll be made in Georgia, and then the three-day transfer from Georgia to North Penn will happen,” he said.

A sidewalk runs from a parking lot to the auditorium entrance of Penndale Middle School in Lansdale, the site that could host a planned in-house health clinic later this fall.  (Photo courtesy North Penn School District)
A sidewalk runs from a parking lot to the auditorium entrance of Penndale Middle School in Lansdale, the site that could host a planned in-house health clinic later this fall. (Photo courtesy North Penn School District)

Current plans state that site work at the middle school site should be completed by the end of November, which should be just in time for delivery of the modular building, and then utility connections can begin.

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“We’ve had a roller coaster ride with this health center: Just when we think we’ve got everything under control, we get rejected offers for the construction site work. Then we get the state contract and we’re back in the game, so we think the center could open for our staff now in January,” he said.

Once the center is open, employees can visit the local center for medical information and certain early treatments and services that could drastically reduce district healthcare costs depending on usage.

“The sooner healthcare is accessed, the sooner we can start down this path of projected savings of $10 million over 10 years,” said Skrocki.

“It’s mid-October and the thought of opening in early January is incredibly exciting for me because it marks the end of a five-year journey,” he said.

Superintendent Todd Bauer joked that the CFO could personally oversee the delivery to ensure the building made it to the district.

“I would like to offer your services to drive the truck labeled ‘oversize load’ on the way here,” Bauer said, and Skrocki replied, “I don’t want to drive the oversize truck, I want to take the lead truck,” and committee chairman Christian Fusco joked, “At least let him honk.”

Resident Jason Lanier made the only public comment about the center, saying he still has “some outstanding issues regarding the clinic, mainly the authorization to do so in the school code.”

“I’ve looked through this a few times and can’t find anywhere that allows you to build anything on the school grounds that isn’t school related. You couldn’t decide to build a gas station because you didn’t want everyone to have to travel to school. That’s not allowed,” he said.

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Board member Jonathan Kassa elaborated on this comparison by mentioning a facility built next to North Penn High School in 2019: “Are we considering the propane station a ‘gas station’ on county property?”, and Skrocki replied, “No, it is Gas station for propane buses” before going into more detail.

“We already offer health services to our employees. We spend $27 million annually on healthcare for our employees and their eligible dependents. We’ve covered 4,200 lives in our plan, between employees and loved ones,” he said.

“Having the health center on-site is the costly approach of having individuals go to a GP or emergency care or sometimes even an emergency and getting that to a cheaper alternative. So we’re still providing health care, just at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Skrocki said.

The North Penn School Board meets next at 7 p.m. October 20 at the Montgomery Township Building, 1001 Stump Road and the Finance Committee next meets at 6 p.m. November 9; Visit www.NPenn.org for more information.

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