VCS sets up medical centers for workers
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | January 21,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff FILE Photo
The Vermont Country Store is establishing health centers for its employees at its packing and shipping operation in North Clarendon (shown) and at its corporate headquarters in Manchester.
The Vermont Country Store is partnering with a Winooski company to take health care for its employees to the next level while making it more affordable.
Vermont’s iconic mail and Internet catalog company has partnered with Marathon Health of Winooski to establish health centers at the company’s North Clarendon operations center and at its Manchester headquarters.
The health centers are the latest innovation to improve the health of the company’s 450 year-round employees.
“The Vermont Country Store was among the first champions of employee wellness in the state, which has been primarily focused on physical health,” Gardner Orton said.
Orton, along with his brothers, Eliot and Cabot, are third-generation owners of the 67-year-old company, known for its catalog of hard-to-find items.
Under their father, Lyman, the company has emphasized the importance of employee wellness.
The Ortons have already established fitness centers, health coaching and an on-site farmers’ market.
“The health center itself in each location is going to be staffed by a family nurse practitioner,” said Ann Warrell, the company’s communications and community relations manager, “so that there will be somebody who can treat their primary care needs and prescribe common medications for them.”
She said the centers will serve as a first line of health care intervention and is more convenient for employees than visiting their primary care physicians.
Although details are still being worked out, Warrell said health center care will work in conjunction with the company’s health insurance coverage.
“The motivating factor for us is to make that also much more affordable for our employees,” she said.
The health centers will be open to all of The Vermont Country Store’s employees, including those at the retail stores in Weston and Rockingham.
The benefit extends to employees regardless of their health insurance coverage, as well as to dependent family members covered under the company’s medical plan.
Space is being set aside for medical offices at both the North Clarendon and Manchester locations in time for a May startup.
Marathon Health already provides The Vermont Country Store with employee health coaching, disease management and assessment services.
“Over the past five years, we have provided the support people needed to make important healthy lifestyle changes,” Marathon Health CEO Jerry Ford said in a statement. “With the addition of primary care services, we are providing another avenue to guide The Vermont Country Store employees on their journey to better health.”
The Vermont Country Store was founded in 1946 by Vrest and Ellen Orton, whose first 12-page catalog contained just 36 items.