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CVS Health debuts MinuteClinic in Washington, expands mental health pilot

CVS Health debuts its first MinuteClinic locations in Washington while also expanding its piloted mental health offering in other areas of the country.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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CVS Health is taking its healthcare services to the next level. The company is unveiling the first MinuteClinic locations in Washington. At the same time, the company also is expanding its mental health services in other areas of the country to more locations, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. 

The new MinuteClinic location in Washington can be found inside a CVS HealthHUB location, the company's new store format. CVS HealthHUB was developed to help people manage chronic conditions more conveniently and affordably by improving the overall patient experience and featuring a wide array of accessible health and wellness products, clinical services and expertise.

"We're focused on helping increase access to high-quality, affordable health care for people in the communities where they live and work," said Sharon Vitti, MinuteClinic president. "We look forward to MinuteClinic being a convenient resource for Washingtonians, both in-person and virtually, as how people access care continues to evolve."

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In addition to its in-store services, patients can access MinuteClinic virtually through E-Clinic or through a MinuteClinic Video Visit. Through the E-Clinic option, patients connect virtually with a local MinuteClinic provider via video conferencing using a mobile device or computer. The visits are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interested patients can request an E-Clinic visit here.

CVS Health also is expanding its mental health counseling services to 34 locations, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Earlier this year, the company began stationing mental health providers — typically a licensed clinical social worker trained in cognitive behavioral therapy — at 13 locations in Houston, Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla., as a pilot program. According to the report, CVS Health saw a surprisingly high return rate for customers who had an initial consultation, and is now expanding the program to 34 locations in those areas.

[Watch this: Webinar explores how CVS is helping patients navigate mental health services]

The company is among several retailers, including Walmart, and Walgreens Boots Alliance that are offering counseling services in or near stores, as they are seeing the potential for these services amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WSJ reported. 

The report noted that federal data shows that the pandemic has prompted more people to seek help for addiction, depression and other issues. 

“It’s creative and we certainly need the help,” Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told WSJ. “It’s an interesting idea to post a mental-health resource at a place where people already are at.”

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A mental-health assessment costs $129; a 30-minute counseling session is $69. Based on the assessment results, a customer could return for a few therapy sessions, or they might get a referral for extensive services from a family doctor, psychiatrist or another local resource. People without insurance are referred to a community organization that helps the uninsured, CVS said.

“We’re dealing with a system that is broken and confusing,” Cara McNulty, president of behavioral health for Aetna-owned CVS told WSJ. “Often people don’t know where to go, who to see and what they need to be seen for. When you really democratize access to care by putting mental-health support in a retail setting, it makes access easier for people.”