My younger grandson Ezekiel had a bad cold the week before Christmas, and I was reading to him while his grandpa helped his older brother get ready for bed. He was enjoying the book so much that he looked up at me with a big grin – and then promptly sneezed in my face. I knew I had been hit with a germ bomb.
By Christmas Eve, I had a bad upper respiratory infection. I couldn’t get in to see my doctor due to the Christmas holiday, but I had no luck scheduling anything for the days after Christmas either. I had heard about The Little Clinics operating out of Kroger stores, and I decided to give one a try vs. waiting another 5 days to see a doctor. I am happy to report that the experience was entirely positive, and I’ve found an easier alternative to in-office doctor visits.
I went to the Kroger in Mason, and was checked in by a receptionist who directed me to a computer where I answered questions about my symptoms and provided background information vs. filling out paper forms on a clipboard. Instead of sitting in a packed waiting room for hours, I had a cup of coffee from the in-store Starbucks and read the Wall Street Journal sitting at a table between the Starbucks and the floral department. After 20 minutes my name was called. I was examined by a Certified Nurse Practitioner who conducted a thorough exam, provided me with a print-out of my diagnosis, instructions to alleviate the symptoms, and a prescription for an antibiotic that I could fill if my symptoms became worse. No need to come back for a second visit to get a prescription.
When I asked him how he decided to become a Nurse Practitioner, I learned his father is a physician and his mother is a nurse. He wanted to go into medicine too, but couldn’t justify the costs of going to medical school given the state of flux of healthcare. Becoming a nurse practitioner allows him to work with patients in the same way he would as a family physician, but without the downside of debt. The Little Clinics format gives him the experience of having his own practice, without the responsibilities of managing an office with all the red tape.
CVS has launched their own version of the The Little Clinics, known as the MinuteClinics, inside their stores. I don’t have any personal experience with them, but my son says they are all around the Ohio State campus in Columbus and are used extensively by the students.
I realize there are lots of problems with the delivery of healthcare in this country, and we are all a little anxious about the impact new government regulations will have over the next several years. But it’s good to see capitalism providing solutions for some of the challenges we face.
Little changes like this give me hope.