The Kroger Co., through its Kroger Health arm, today launched a coronavirus testing solution for employers.
Called COVIDCare Plus, the plan comprises Kroger Health’s FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which became available in July, and access to clinical services offering primary health and wellness care. The program is now available in 17 states, with plans to roll it out to more states soon, Kroger said Thursday.
“We know testing continues to be a critical pillar in the fight against COVID-19,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a statement. “And yet, our country faces ongoing challenges to keep pace with demand. At Kroger Health, we are grateful to be part of the solution by providing employers with COVID-19 testing that has a short turnaround time. This is paramount to keeping American businesses open and people at work.”
Kroger’s COVID-19 home test kit collects samples via mid-turbinate nasal swabs, the same process that Kroger Health uses at its drive-thru coronavirus testing sites. The kit includes a telehealth consultation with a licensed health professional to supervise the specimen collection, which Kroger said improves the quality of the sample, increases accessibility and reduces patient anxiety, helping to provide a higher level of testing accuracy. Results are delivered in 24 to 48 hours through Kroger Health’s partnership with CLIA-certified laboratory Gravity Diagnostics.
COVIDCare Plus also provides employers and their workers access to basic health care services such as vaccinations, telehealth and telenutrition. Currently, Kroger Health is offering a Base Care option that includes the home test kit, program management, telehealth consultation, a re-testing protocol and reporting.
Coming soon are a Complete Care plan that include the Base Care services plus enhanced reporting, digital screenings, an employer web portal and prescriptions discounts as well as an Advanced Care option including the Base and Complete Care services plus Kroger Health immunizations, biometric screenings, ongoing telehealth and telenutrition access, and Welsana meal-kit boxes. Thermal scanners, digital thermometers and personal protective equipment (PPE) also are available upon request.
Kroger said the expanded health services are designed to drive behavior change to improve well-being and stem the tide of chronic disease, which affects nearly half of Americans. During the pandemic, medical experts have said chronic conditions and poor health have contributed to more severe COVID-19 cases as well as deaths.
Kroger reported that 72% of Americans are overweight or obese, more than 100 million have diabetes or prediabetes, and a poor diet has become the chief cause of poor health in the United States, according to the 2020 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. The company said that, as the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, it offers an array of health, wellness and nutrition solutions. That includes Kroger Health’s expertise in “food as medicine,” in which licensed dietitians can provide personal nutrition counseling and food recommendations in line with a physician’s guidance.
“We are solving for the pandemic while building for the epidemic,” according to Lindholz. “COVID-19 is our clear focus in the short term, and we have a strong plan in place to help drive our country’s recovery efforts. However, we know that — now more than ever — a focus on health and wellness needs to become an ongoing way of life for all of us. That’s why we are committed to providing organizations with the services we know their employees and stakeholders need to stay healthy.”
In May, Cincinnati-based Kroger began offering frontline workers free coronavirus testing, through self-administered kits and public drive-thru test sites. The company so far has administered 150,000 COVID-19 tests at drive-up testing locations in 19 states, and plans call for the program to be expanded. Kroger noted that mounting cases of coronavirus nationwide have tripled demand for testing, and results are taking up to three weeks to deliver in the hardest-hit areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Kroger Health nurse practitioners, pharmacists and technicians provide professional services for the drive-thru tests. Kroger said its Kroger Health unit is the nation’s fourth-largest retail health care organization, with more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states serving more than 14 million customers.
For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.