CVS putting medical clinics in 8 south La. locations

CVS is set to open medical clinics at eight of its south Louisiana pharmacies this month.

The first four MinuteClinics are open at CVS locations in Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge; 2915 U.S. 190, Mandeville; 2103 Gause Blvd. East, Slidell; and 201 N. Canal Blvd., Thibodaux.

Three more clinics will open on Oct. 23 in the CVS stores at 4401 S. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans; 17122 Airline Highway, Prairieville; and 820 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner.

A clinic in the store at 2105 Cleary Ave., Metairie, will open Oct. 30.

The walk-in clinics will be staffed by nurse practitioners who specialize in family health care. About 20 nurse practitioners now work at the clinics.

“The goal for our MinuteClinics is to offer high quality, affordable convenient care to people who need it,” said Donna Learned, a nurse practitioner and state practice manager for the clinics. “We want people to get healthy and stay healthy.”

The MinuteClinics were introduced in Minneapolis in 2000. CVS purchased the company in 2006 and started a national expansion. There are now more than 700 MinuteClinics in 27 states, and CVS plans to have 1,500 nationwide by 2017.

More Louisiana MinuteClinics could be in the works, although there are no plans for additional locations in 2014.

The area clinics will be open 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Learned said the clinic will accept insurance from all major carriers in Louisiana, Medicare, most Medicaid plans and cash.

Several factors are driving the growth of the clinics, said Learned and Brent Burkhardt, a CVS spokesman.

The Affordable Care Act will mean an influx of newly insured patients. There’s a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians.

The baby boomer population is aging. Obesity and diabetes are epidemics.

“We think this really makes retail clinics a very viable option,” Burkhardt said.

The clinics treat a variety of common family illnesses such as strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections.

Minor wounds, abrasions, skin conditions and joint sprains can be treated, and common vaccinations such as influenza, tetanus, pneumonia and hepatitis A & B will be provided.

Physicals for sports and camp will also be offered, along with smoking cessation and medical education.

Dr. Jim Taylor, a Livingston family physician, said the MinuteClinics aren’t a solution to America’s health care problems.

“They’re not setting up these clinics in low-access areas; they’re going where the money is,” said Taylor, director of legislative affairs for the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians.

Taylor said he doesn’t have a problem with the MinuteClinics offering convenient service and having a profitable model.

Taylor said his problem is with the role of nurse practitioners taking care of patients without a doctor monitoring and managing them.

He sees this as the latest front in a battle over expanding the scope of services a nurse practitioner can offer.

And Taylor notes that urgent care clinics, which are staffed by doctors, offer after-hours service across the city.

Learned said urgent care clinics offer broader services than MinuteClinic, such as the ability to take care of severe lacerations and broken bones.

She said the clinic will work with family practitioners, such as offering a referral list of doctors who are taking new patients and passing along records of patient visits to primary care physicians to make sure they are aware of what treatment is going on.

“If you have a primary care physician, we will deliver a full continuum of services,” Learned said.

“We’re part of the team. We’re not opposing them.”