Got the flu? Maybe you should go to Price Chopper.
Under a new partnership with Ellis Medicine, people can now get more than chicken soup at the grocery store for life’s common maladies.
Price Chopper and Ellis Medicine announced Thursday the launch of walk-in health-care clinics at Price Chopper’s new Market Bistro store in Latham and the Price Chopper on Route 9 in Malta. Called QuickCare, the clinics will be staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners who can provide treatment for allergies, congestion, cough, earache, flu-like symptoms, pink eye, sinus infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections and other minor illnesses.
At a glance
• The two QuickCare locations officially opened Thursday, but have seen patients for the past week or so.
• They are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and so far only accept CDPHP insurance.
• Co-pays are based on the member’s plan. For patients without CDPHP insurance, a $40 cash or credit-card payment is due at the time of service.
“Things are changing in health care, and, boy, do we feel it,” said David Liebers, chief medical officer for Ellis Medicine and QuickCare’s new medical director. “Providing access to health care in settings that are part of an individual or family’s daily routine is something that this new concept allows to happen.”
Walk-in clinics provide a third option for people seeking treatment for a common illness. Scheduling an appointment with a primary-care physician often proves a hassle, as physicians’ schedules fill up quickly with routine follow-ups and physicals. And visiting a local emergency room can mean long wait times as minor illnesses take a backseat to more-serious health problems.
QuickCare is a way to get minor illnesses treated efficiently while avoiding a costly visit to the local emergency room, officials said Thursday.
“We’ve seen a flow of patients that could be easily evaluated here show up in our emergency rooms and urgent-care centers,” said Liebers. “I’m a practicing physician, so I know how tough schedules can be. And sometimes, minor illnesses have to wait at the ER, and they shouldn’t have to wait. So this is just another avenue to get folks looked at quickly.”
Ellen Boyle, an Ellis nurse practitioner, said that of the patients she has seen so far at the Latham location, all showed up because they could not get timely appointments with their primary-care doctors.
“Especially on Saturday and Sunday, when their doctor’s office is not open, this is where they will go,” she said. “I saw somebody on Sunday who had the flu, and she wanted to know how long the wait would be, because the wait at the urgent care center in Malta was an hour and a half. She was out of here in 20 minutes.”
Walk-in clinics in a retail setting are a growing trend elsewhere in the nation, but the QuickCare clinics are the first of their kind in the Capital Region. CVS Pharmacy launched the nation’s first retail medical clinics in 2000 under a program called MinuteClinic. The walk-in clinics were set up inside select CVS locations and only accepted patients with common illnesses. The closest locations are in western Massachusetts, New York City and Westchester and Rockland counties downstate.
In recent years, the local health community has worked to improve access to health care outside traditional locations like hospitals, especially with the construction of new urgent care centers in Saratoga County.
CDPHP recently opened a service center in Latham that will allow members to get face-to-face answers about their benefits, find a doctor, schedule an appointment or purchase health coverage. In late 2013, CDPHP also unveiled new health screening kiosks inside six area Price Choppers that provide users with free blood pressure, weight, heart rate, blood oxygen and temperature readings.
The trend is health care that’s quick and convenient, said Neil Golub, executive chairman of Price Chopper’s board of directors.
“What better place than the supermarket?” he said. “So if you’ve got a cold, you can come over here and have somebody see you and talk with you and give you good advice about what to do. And then you can go over to the other side of the store and get your chicken soup. It’s a place where everything is all here.”
QuickCare is located next to Price Chopper’s full-service pharmacies inside the Malta and Latham locations.