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Retail clinics take root in diverse locations


NEW YORK —What do a truck stop, a dental office and an airport have in common? They are among the latest hotbeds for the evolving in-store retail clinic model.

It has been about eight years since in-store clinics emerged and in that time they have quickly grown from an industry anomaly to a viable access point for affordable, convenient, quality health care. With nearly 1,000 retail clinics sprinkled throughout the United States, the concept now is transforming to incorporate different healthcare services and to target more specific patients in unique settings.

Such moves are not necessarily surprising, and one could even argue they were inevitable as healthcare officials and entrepreneurs increasingly recognize the important role that clinics play in today’s healthcare industry that is riddled with rising costs, overflowing emergency rooms and overbooked physician offices.

In fact, in a recent interview with Drug Store News, Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, predicted of the clinic industry, “I think you will see some diversity in some of the services and they may be community-specific and it may be company-specific.”

That time has come.

In March, Carnival Food Stores, a Latino-themed retailer owned by Minyard Food Stores, announced the opening of the first in-store dental center in Texas geared toward the Hispanic community.

To develop the clinic model, Carnival partnered with All Smiles Dental and Orthodontics, which has 15 North Texas dental centers. In addition to operating the in-store clinic at Carnival, All Smiles also operates two mobile dental clinics that will visit a Carnival store every week on a rotating basis to provide basic dental health care.

The All Smiles Dental and Orthodontics center, located within the 55,000-square-foot supermarket in Plano, is open during the week and on various weekends.

All Smiles specializes in providing general dentistry, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics and pediatric dentistry for low-income families. It accepts Medicaid, CHIP and PPO insurance programs as well as cash plans.

Looking to help America’s truckers with their healthcare needs while on the road, Roadside Medical Labs and Clinics and Pilot Travel Centers are working to expand the new network of retail medical clinics.

The first location opened earlier this year at the Pilot Travel Center in Cartersville, Ga. Since then, clinics also have opened in Knoxville, Tenn., and in West Memphis, Ark. A clinic is expected to “open soon” in East St. Louis, Ill. Roadside stated that it plans to deliver 17 additional locations in 2008 and 20 more in 2009.

Depending on state regulations, patients will be treated by a physician, physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner. While the clinics will keep many routine medications in stock and dispense prescriptions to its patients, they are not walk-in pharmacies. Services include acute care, wellness programs and such DOT services as physicals and drug screenings.

Roadside has developed wellness and preventive programs. For $15 to $30 a month, drivers or companies can pick from a menu of wellness services including one-on-one healthy coaching via the phone. It has also developed a spouse outreach program.

Maintenance programs include:

Road Test: A complete physical assessment and annual medical planning.

First Gear: Routine monitoring, exercise program and preferred pricing.

Second Gear: Customized online wellness center and Health Activity Tracker.

Third Gear: Bio-screening including a wellness bio-blood panel and DOT exam.

Coaching: Dedicated to keep drivers on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Meanwhile, airport-based clinics continue to take flight. Among the latest developments is at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport where officials are looking to open a clinic and pharmacy to offer the airport’s 60 million annual air passengers and thousands of airport employees.

Airport officials held on April 17 an informational session for the local health-care and medical community to discuss the project, bidding procedures and possible partnerships.

The planned walk-in clinic and pharmacy will offer minor illness care, prescription filling and preventative well-care screenings. Vaccinations, X-rays and nutritional services—vitamins and minerals, protein shakes and bars, and nutritional supplements—also will be offered.

AeroClinic opened in May 2007 its first clinic at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and expects to open around May of this year a clinic within the Philadelphia International Airport.

In March 2007, Harmony Pharmacy & Health Center opened its first location in New Jersey at Newark Liberty and plans to open another at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Solantic, which operates walk-in clinics at several Wal-Marts, is expected to open a clinic at Orlando International slated for December.

In other clinic news, CCA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore ways to improve prevention, surveillance and emergency response to disease outbreaks.

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