Minute Clinic at CVS offers convenient health care alternative

By Caroline Klapper | Dec 08, 2012
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Harold Franklin went to the Minute Clinic to avoid a long wait at an urgent care facility.

Facing a wait of several hours at the Urgent Care in Canton, Harold Franklin decided to take advantage of a new health care option in Haywood County — the Minute Clinic at the CVS in Waynesville.

The retail health clinic opened Nov. 14 as an alternative for patients looking for treatment for minor illnesses, injuries or other conditions that might require medical care but aren’t serious enough for an emergency room visit or a long wait for a doctor’s appointment.

“It was developed in an effort to support patients,” said Nicki Gatton-Kendrick, a nurse practitioner and the Minute Clinic state practice manager for North Carolina. “They need more health care options.”

Open seven days a week and later than most doctor’s offices, patients can walk in and sign up to see the nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant on staff, whether it’s to get a vaccination or a health screening. Most visits take only 15 to 20 minutes and services also include the diagnosis, treatment and writing of prescriptions for a number of common illnesses, including strep throat, ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections, minor wounds, skin conditions, joint sprains as well as most common vaccinations, including flu, tetanus, pneumonia and Hepatitis A and B.

While restricted drugs, such as Schedule II narcotics, cannot be prescribed by Minute Clinic practitioners, they can prescribe medications for common family illnesses, including antibiotics and topical creams.

Most types of health insurance are accepted, and for patients paying for their visit with cash or credit, treatment prices are posted at each clinic and on the website at www.minuteclinic.com. The cost for most treatment starts at about $79.

Gatton-Kendrick said for most patients, the Minute Clinic is about convenience, affordability and accessibility, and people seem to be responding.

“We’re in the midst of a very robust growth period with Minute Clinic,” she said, adding CVS has more than 600 clinics across the country, and the company expects to see that number grow to 1,000 in the next four years.

Care at all the Minute Clinics is standardized, meaning patients can expect the same services to be offered from place to place. Information on a patient and prescriptions can also be sent electronically to the patient’s primary care physician with the patient’s permission or another pharmacy to provide care continuity and added convenience.

If a situation arises that the clinic cannot address, the patient is referred to their primary care physician or the hospital.

Currently, there are six Minute Clinics at CVS stores in Asheville, and Waynesville’s clinic is the westernmost clinic among the 43 in the state.

Since the Minute Clinic in Waynesville opened several weeks ago, patient volume has been steadily increasing, said the clinic’s physician’s assistant Lindsey Hardin.

“It’s been pretty good. It’s definitely starting to pick up. I guess the word is getting out,” she said, adding the clinic addresses a need for more convenient health care in the community. “People are pretty pleased that there’s another thing they can do. It’s convenient. You can stop in and don’t have to have an appointment.”

That’s exactly what attracted Franklin to the Minute Clinic this week.

He walked up, signed in and in about 20-30 minutes he’d been examined and sent on his way.

“If you’re sick, you don’t want to have to wait two hours. I didn’t have to wait,” he said. “I think in the future, the Minute Clinic will be used a whole lot.”

The Minute Clinic in Waynesville is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays.

CVS Pharmacy  is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States after Walgreens, with over 7,000 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico.

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