PUBLIX TO ADD HEALTH CLINICS

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix Super Markets here reported last week that it will open in-store medical clinics, run by the Little Clinic, Louisville, Ky., in the Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Atlanta markets.The first clinics are scheduled to open in the first half of 2006 in Miami, Orlando and Tampa, but the exact number and locations of the stores have yet to be decided, said Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous.

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix Super Markets here reported last week that it will open in-store medical clinics, run by the Little Clinic, Louisville, Ky., in the Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Atlanta markets.

The first clinics are scheduled to open in the first half of 2006 in Miami, Orlando and Tampa, but the exact number and locations of the stores have yet to be decided, said Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous. The Little Clinic is also found in eight stores of Kroger Co., Cincinnati.

"With these clinics, a nurse practitioner can issue a prescription and the customer can see the Publix pharmacist right in the store after they are finished," Brous said.

Publix hopes to have all of the clinics open seven days a week, mirroring store pharmacy hours, Brous said. Clinic locations within the stores will vary based on store layout, but "the ideal place for customer convenience will be next to the store pharmacy," Brous said.

The Little Clinic health care centers will be staffed by nurse practitioners to diagnose and write prescriptions for common ailments and minor injuries, as well as to offer wellness care like physicals, screenings and vaccinations.

There are over 46 million uninsured Americans, "many from working families," said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the National Nursing Center Consortium, a Philadelphia-based trade association for nurse-managed health centers. By treating the uninsured, nurse-managed health centers can reduce emergency room usage and cut Medicaid costs, according to the consortium.

"These clinics provide an alternative to going to the emergency room for the uninsured, and they are a convenient option for anyone who does not have the luxury of spending hours waiting for an appointment at a doctor's office," Hansen-Turton said.

Customers will be able to receive care, drop off a prescription, do some shopping and pick up their prescription all in one trip, Brous said. "We all live hectic, busy lives and need more time to do things. This makes Publix a more convenient destination."

The addition of clinics is a natural fit, Hansen-Turton said, because supermarkets "are where the community goes. Clinics located in supermarkets give people more access to quality health care."

Publix's Brous described the partnership as a "commitment to service customers' health and wellness needs."

"We are a twofold business based on both convenience and customer service, and any time we partner with someone, we look for them to share that. It is no different with Little Clinic," Brous said.

Although nurse-managed health care centers also exist in nonprofit formats and academically based formats, affiliated with schools of nursing, "once the private sector takes an interest like this, it provides a great opportunity to serve the public," Hanson-Turton said.