Capital Blue Cross plans to host a grand opening soon at its new retail wellness center, Capital Blue Cross Connect, in downtown Allentown.
The center is part of a $4 million renovation of the three-story building that serves as Capital’s Lehigh Valley headquarters. Anne Baum, Capital’s president for the Lehigh Valley region, said the building was aging and in need of renovation.
At first, she said, they considered moving to a new location, but with all the redevelopment going on in the city, and the office’s location at 1221 Hamilton St., the Western gateway to the downtown, they decided to stay put and remodel what they had.
“We couldn’t find a better location to meet the needs of our company,” Baum said.
Michael Crnovic, director of retail services for Capital, said there was a walk-in customer service area in the building where people could pay their bills and receive some limited services, but despite the foot traffic it was eventually closed.
“It was kind of a makeshift space,” he said. “We closed it, but we wanted that presence back.”
Roseann Humphrey, manager of the Allentown location, said there was a demand for a full-service center where people could come in off the street, talk about their insurance coverage and get health advice.
“There’s a lot to be said about that face-to-face service,” Humphrey said. “You’d be surprised by how many people want that face-to-face communication.”
Customers will be able to purchase or review their health insurance policies with an agent in the office, and get wellness advice, including consultations with a dietician, biometric screening and a finger stick blood test to check for such things as diabetes or high cholesterol.
They will also offer a service to small businesses looking for coverage for less than 50 employees. By using the services available in the new office, small business owners can encourage their employees to work on their health.
In addition, there is a conference room Capital Blue Cross will share with area nonprofits, and a meeting room where the company will offer health education seminars.
The décor of the office is a tribute to the city’s park system. The offices and hallways are filled with photographs of the city’s parks as well as information on where to find them and the activities they offer to encourage visitors to go outdoors and exercise.
Encouraging wellness is an important part of the company’s strategy to improve the health of its customers. Healty customers need less health care and that lowers the cost of care, Crnovic said.
“It’s a critical component for our company to connect with the community,” Baum said.
She also noted that while it has many unique features, it isn’t Captial’s only retail presence in the Lehigh Valley. It opened its first such center in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley years ago and has opened similar locations around the state since then.