Universal Fibers expands on-site health care


Above: Nurse Practitioner Suzanne Rogers

Company hopes move will help attract additional employees

Universal Fibers, a Bristol, Va.-based international sustainable solution-dyed fiber company, cut the ribbon June 25 on a new employee and family health clinic at the company’s Bristol manufacturing facility. The 1,000+ square foot clinic expansion creates a win-win for employees who need affordable care and a company that needs healthy employees, said CEO Marc Ammen.

“We had the first clinic in our operation seven years ago providing more safety-related care,” Ammen said. “We realized that the question was how to afford healthcare long-term for our families – to bend that cost curve and make it more affordable and flexible for our people – but most of all we need our people to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This clinic is a great step in that direction.”

Universal Fibers CEO Marc Ammen

“Certainly, at the beginning the costs are clear and the benefits are unclear,” Ammen said. “But you just have to believe. The secret sauce of our company across the world is our people. So, everything we can do to improve the longevity and well-being of our people, the more people we’ll be able to attract in a labor market where it is difficult to attract new employees. So, that’s the vision that’s required.”

Said Rick Nunley director of Human Resources, “We’re simply creating an on-site, internal choice that provides a more convenient acute care option for our associates and their family members.”

In August 2019, Ammen said he rejected the advice of healthcare consultants. “They told us they could save us $6 million a year,” Ammen said. “All we had to do was enroll all our people in ObamaCare. So, I had a brief conversation with myself and said, ‘what could go wrong with dimwits in Washington, many of who are politically-motivated hacks, being in charge of your healthcare?’ Then, I said, ‘no.’ Actually, I said, ‘hell, no.’”

At that point, Ammen said, Universal Fibers began the search for a clinic operations partner. Universal Fibers contracted with CareTeam Corporate Health to operate the expanded clinic, with the existing nurse practitioner, Suzanne Rogers, remaining in place.

CEO Sam Jones of CareTeam Corporate Health said his company’s approach is to work with employers who understand the value of a healthy workforce. “We asked ourselves when we started, ‘What if we simply remove cost, convenience and time as barriers to getting healthy and staying healthy? And what if we work with great employers who would make phenomenal investments like this and play the long game? Wouldn’t that be the way we’d all want to consume healthcare?’”

“CareTeam’s fully integrated model provided the confidentiality and the service programs that we needed for our platform to include primary care, urgent care, occupational care, disease management and a host of other programs,” Nunley said.

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