Tyson Foods held a grand opening today for its company-owned health clinic in Storm Lake.

The Bright Blue Health Center is providing primary and preventative care to the 33-hundred employees who work at the two Tyson plants in Storm Lake, as well as their families. The clinic opened May 26.

“Over the last month, our team members have been introduced to the services,” said Russ Dierenfield, manufacturing director for Tyson’s turkey plant in Storm Lake. “We’re excited to see more and more team members utilizing the center.”

Tyson also operates a pork plant in Storm Lake. Dr. Claudia Coplein, chief medical officer for Tyson Foods, said they’ve found some front-line workers aren’t using their health plan benefits, don’t have a primary care physician or don’t seek care until there’s a crisis.

“There are a variety of reasons for this,” she said. “It could be due to cultural barriers, concerns about cost as well as fear of what can sometimes be seen as a complex health care system. We’re trying to change that by providing easy access to high quality health care that helps detect health conditions early and also promotes healthy habits.”

In most cases, employees and their families will not be charged for services at the clinic. Tyson Foods is opening seven Bright Blue Health Centers near company production facilities this year and Storm Lake’s is the only one in Iowa. All seven are being run by Marathon Health, a Vermont-based company that manages worksite clinics in a number of different industries.

(By Ryan Thompson, KAYL, Storm Lake)