Tyson Foods Inc. said one of its first seven “Bright Blue” health centers, designed to provide Tyson employees and their families easier access to quality healthcare, opens May 19 at 1600 River Street in Wilkesboro.

The company said healthcare in most cases will be provided free of charge. Spouses and dependents age 2 and older who are covered by the Tyson insurance plan are also eligible to be seen at the clinics. Communication in multiple languages will be provided.

The health centers, operated by Marathon Health, will provide primary and preventive care. This includes health screenings, lifestyle coaching and health education, as well as behavioral health counseling.

Tyson employees enrolled in a high deductible health plan will pay a fee for visits until deductible is met. The company said this applies to less than 2% of eligible employees.

The Wilkesboro health center will be staffed by a behavioral health counselor, registered dietician, medical assistant, practice support specialist and two nurse practitioners. The health centers will collaborate with plant community health providers, including primary care physicians and specialists.

Hours for the Wilkesboro center will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

“We’re piloting these health centers to promote a culture of health and wellness in our company that results in a healthier workforce,” said Dr. Claudia Coplein, chief medical officer for Tyson Foods.

“Some of our frontline team members aren’t using their health plan benefits, and others don’t seek care until there’s a crisis. We want to change that by providing access to care that can help detect health conditions early and promote healthy habits.”

The health centers represent an expansion of the company’s We Care workplace safety program. It’s an addition to the company’s existing health services staff, which includes on-site occupational health nurses at most plant locations.

Naming the health centers “Bright Blue” is intended to convey the outlook of a bright future thanks to easily accessible healthcare and the company’s familiar heritage color, blue, stated a press release.

The first health center opened April 28 in Dyersburg, Tenn., near the company’s facility in Newbern, Tennessee.

In addition to Wilkesboro and Newbern, Tenn., the health center locations and their opening dates are Green Forest, Ark., and Lexington, Neb., both May 12; Center, Texas, May 19; Storm Lake, Iowa, May 26; and Garden City, Kan., this summer.

Tyson Foods requires all regular, full-time team members who have completed 59 days of employment to have health care coverage through either the company-sponsored health plan or through a family member’s plan.

Since spring 2020, Tyson has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to transform its U.S. facilities with protective measures, from walk-through temperature scanners and workstation dividers to social distance monitors and always-on testing, as well as provide additional team member pay and benefits. Tyson Foods has also expanded its health services staff and added a chief medical officer.

More than 40,000 Tyson employees have been vaccinated so far at more than 100 events held onsite at Tyson facilities or in nearby community facilities. In preparation for vaccinations, Tyson Foods has been providing expert resources and education about the vaccine to team members. This information is available in multiple languages and team members also have access to a hotline to ask questions.

The company also compensates workers for up to four hours of regular pay if they are vaccinated outside of their normal shift or through an external source.

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