By LISA SIMPSON STRANGE
Glasgow Daily Times
An additional health care option became available for local patients this week. The Clinic at Walmart officially opened its doors for business Tuesday morning near the center entrance of the chain’s Glasgow store location at 2345 Happy Valley Road.
The worldwide retailer has been diversifying into different medical-related businesses for several years including, pharmacies, vision care centers and health clinics.
The new clinic at the Glasgow store is the result of a partnership between Walmart and TJ Health Partners LLC, a local physicians’ organization that was established last year. The walk-in health clinic is the first owned and operated by TJ Health Partners in a Walmart.
Both entities see the collaboration as beneficial to the success of the facility.
“We have an excellent working relationship with Walmart that helps us serve our patients and our communities better,” said Tony Sudduth, CEO of TJ Health Partners. “That’s because our clinic inside Walmart is staffed with licensed health care providers, even on nights and weekends. Our mission is to serve patients and meet their health care needs, and this kind of convenient and affordable clinic expands our ability to do that.”
Walmart first went public in April 2007 with a plan to open 400 clinics in their stores initially during a period of two to three years with a potential total of 2,000 clinics opened by 2014, according to a previous company press release.
“Walmart is dedicated to serving our customers and our communities, and this type of clinic helps expand their access to quality healthcare,” said Jeff Brown, senior director, Health and Wellness Innovations and Systems. “TJ Health Partners is a well-known and respected healthcare provider in this area, which is why we know our customers will receive quality care from people they know and trust.”
TJ Health Partners became interested in the project because of the changes that are occurring in health care.
“It’s obviously the trend in the industry. Walmart was very aggressive (in pursuing the clinic) and we felt strongly if someone was going to do this, it should be TJ,” Sudduth said.
The clinic, which will provide basic health care services, will operate separately from TJ Samson Community Hospital and will be overseen by medical director Dr. Scott Gilson. The staff will include a nurse practitioner and customer service rep.
The facility will offer convenient, affordable access to health care, seven days a week, with no appointment necessary. The clinic will be open for walk-in care Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For customers who need care, especially in the evenings or on weekends, the clinic will treat common health concerns and offer routine services.
For general “get well” services, the clinic will charge $78 per treatment including everything from upper respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal problems, earaches, fever, seasonal allergies and skin rashes to minor burns, contusions and suture removal.
“Stay well” services will include diabetes screenings for $20, lab tests ranging from $8 to $45, and vaccinations and immunizations from $15 to $60. Sports physicals and basic checkups will also be available, along with diagnostic testing for tuberculosis and pregnancy.
Most major insurances will be accepted.
The clinic will not take the place of the family doctor. By Kentucky regulation, clinic health care providers cannot treat chronic conditions.
“It’s not meant to replace your primary care physician,” said Sudduth. “It’s more for urgent care when you can’t get to a primary physician.”
The clinic was being manned by three employees Tuesday afternoon, TJ Health Partners nurse practitioner Jessica Stinson and patient service representative Kathy Bryant and TJ Samson Community Hospital systems analyst Julia Leonard.
Stinson said the first day of operations had been quiet for the most part, but Leonard added that several Walmart employees had walked in throughout the day to take advantage of the new convenient service.
Walmart has approached TJ Health Partners about opening clinics in other stores in the area, according to Sudduth, but for now they are going to see how this clinic goes before looking at other locations.
As far as what is planned for the clinic when the new TJ Health Pavilion opens tentatively at the end of 2012, Sudduth said it should not be affected by the new pavilion.
“It will be a little bit of competition with ourselves, but it’s a unique market and I think it will expand access to health care (for more people),” he said.