Retail Relief: Convenient Walk-in Clinics

Retail therapy
Retail therapy: convenient walk-in clinics
cvs minute clinicMPR
Retail therapy: convenient walk-in clinics

Back-to-school shopping at CVS? Don’t forget to put flu vaccinations on the list.

MinuteClinic, a medical treatment center found in select CVS stores, is just one of several clinics located in retail chains throughout the country. These small, walk-ins welcome facilities offer many services patients could otherwise receive from their personal physicians.

“MinuteClinic provides high-quality, convenient and affordable care and makes it easy for patients to be seen, especially if they are not able to get a timely appointment with a primary care provider,” says Brent Burkhardt, a spokesman for MinuteClinic, via email. “MinuteClinic supports the medical home model and is a complement to primary care, not an ‘instead’ option.”

The CVS clinic, which has locations in Syosset and Bellport, can treat common illnesses such as strep throat and infections, and it also provides flu and tetanus vaccinations. Parents can bring their children there for physicals as well. Most insurance policies are accepted, but for those who aren’t insured, treatment costs start at $79.

Target, Walmart and Walgreens were quick to adapt to this trend, which took off with MinuteClinic in 2000 as a way to provide quality healthcare for busy Americans. Target opened its first clinic in 2006 and currently offers it in 53 stores in six states, not including New York. Walmart and Walgreens also have many locations with clinics of New York. These clinics offer similar services to MinuteClinic, such as treatments for injuries, skin conditions and medical screenings. Visits at all of these clinics usually takes about 15 minutes, and patients are treated by board-certified nurse practitioners. For uninsured patients, treatments start at $21 at Target, $65 at Walmart and $79 at Walgreens.

These clinics are quite popular with the public. According to a study by RAND Corporation, the use of retail clinics increased 10-fold between 2007 and 2009. The study found that if a clinic was closer to a patient’s home than a physician was, the patient would choose to go to the clinic instead.
Target spokeswoman Kristin Jahnke says through email that Target Clinic receives very positive response from its patients.

“The response to Target Clinic has been strong, and feedback from our guests is overwhelmingly positive,” writes Jahnke. “Guests have told us they appreciate the convenience, value and quality of the services at Target Clinic.”

As for Long Island, the two aforementioned MinuteClinics are the only retail medical clinics in the area. Jahnke says Target does not have plans to open its clinic at a local store any time soon. Representatives from Walmart and Walgreens did not respond to interview requests.

Retail medical clinics are a less expensive alternative for those who are uninsured and convenient for people with busy lifestyles.

Burkhardt tells the Press that MinuteClinic plans to open 100 stores a year for a total of 1,000 clinics by 2016, so there is a possibility that more CVS pharmacy stores on LI will offer this convenient service.

As seen in the Aug. 16 – Aug. 22 issue of Long Island Press