CINCINNATI - So your little one has an earache or you have a cold that you just can't kick. If your family doctor can't see you right away, you could try a retail clinic at a drug or grocery store.
They're open seven days a week. You don't need an appointment and they take most insurance plans.
Retail clinics, like these, are multiplying across the Midwest, so we wanted to take a closer look at what they have to offer and where physicians stand on their service.
It's all about convenience.
Paul Topmiller of Florence thinks they're great.
"Everything is right here," Topmiller said. "You can do it all at one time."
There's the Little Clinic in Kroger and the Take Care Clinic at Walmart and soon CVS is bringing its Minute Clinics to the Tri-State.
Retail clinics are usually staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners, like David Draney, who says he sees a lot.
"So we see people for a number of reasons, we see people for sick visits, for immunizations, for physicals and we are seeing all those things at this time, though we continue to see plenty of sick visits, people still get strep throat, infections, poison ivy is very common this time of year," Draney said.
While it's convenient, there are some drawbacks when compared to seeing a doctor, according to Christ Hospital's Medical Director Dr. Joseph Bateman.
"The continuity care that you would have with a doctor you will not get at a retail clinic," Bateman said.
Dr. Bateman emphasized that your doctor has access to your medical history and the clinic does not, but he did agree that depending on your problem, it's better than not seeking treatment at all.
Nurse Practitioner Draney agreed.
"We don't try to replace the family practitioner; we really try to augment that care, so if they cannot get into their family practitioner for an acute illness or that physical we encourage them to come here," Draney said.
The Rand Corporation compared costs for treating illnesses at retail clinics and found they cost about 30 percent less than physicians' offices.
The savings can be a factor.
An illness visit is $79 at the Take Care Clinic. If your student athlete needs a sports physical, it's $35 at the Little Clinic and $39 at the Take Care Clinic.
The clinics' growing popularity is forcing others to adapt.
Surveys show that many family doctors are increasing their hours and leaving more appointments open for patients on a first come, first serve basis.
If you do go to a retail clinic for treatment, Dr. Bateman has some important advice. Make sure you ask for a copy of your medical records before you leave so your family doctor can add it to your file.
And look for more of these retail clinics to be popping up around town. CVS is expanding its Minute Clinics to the Cincinnati area in the next couple months.
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