Recently, Walmart announced that it would open primary care clinics in its stores. The centers are staffed largely with physician extenders, the umbrella term for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Services are limited to preventive care, minor treatments, diagnosis of non-complex conditions and monitoring for chronic conditions. Shortly thereafter, CVS Caremark, a national pharmacy chain changed its name to CVS Health. This coincided with its decision to stop selling tobacco products. CVS Health is also opening walk-in primary care offices; these started with providing flu and other vaccines and are expanding to provide services similar to the Walmart clinics.
I think this is just the beginning. Many retail stores, particularly those that have been involved in pharmacy, will be doing the same thing as will large employers like General Electric. Providing access to care and service early can improve quality, satisfaction and lower insurance costs. These clinics are geared to a society on the go. We want care when we need it or have the time to get it, not when our doctor has office hours!
What about seniors living at home? Our communities will soon be introduced to Redwood Health Partners, a new primary care practice located on site at Juniper Village. The goal of Redwood is to provide easily accessible care and service from credentialed providers. Instead of the doctor coming when it is convenient for him or her, the Redwood practitioners will have regular hours right in your community. They will use our electronic health record and will participate in care plan development and care conferences. They offer another resource for addressing chronic or emergent health issues. Redwood will help us “nurture the spirit of life” by keeping people in their home doing the things they love as long as possible.
We will be describing this effort to coordinate many levels of care for you in your home over the next several months. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Redwood, ask your Wellness team for a brochure!
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