walmart-clinic_fc.jpgEver had to take a day off from work to sit in a doctor’s office or wait weeks for an appointment just to get some antibiotics?

Thanks to Wal-Mart and Broward Health, those days are coming to an end.

With the ever-increasing cost of gas, one-stop shopping at the Lauderdale Lakes and Coral Springs Wal-Mart Supercenters can generate groceries, household items and even a check-up, saving shoppers from an additional trip to the doctor’s office.

The two ExpressAid locations, which opened earlier this year, are the first walk-in clinics in Florida Wal-Mart stores that are owned and operated by a hospital system.

When Angela Harding, 54, a life and health insurance agent, saw a flyer about ExpressAid, she decided to check it out. Harding was intrigued by the low cost of health screenings there, and decided to check her EKG, cholesterol, thyroid, hemoglobin and urine all at the same time–something Harding said would have cost her over $700 at her primary physician.

At ExpressAid, however, she only paid $240 for all the tests, including a basic physical exam.

“I was surprised when I got the results the next day. I’m very impressed. I hope they won’t raise the prices any time soon,” said Harding, a Coconut Creek resident.

Right at the front of the Wal-Mart store, in a tiny space where the video arcade used to be, is the ExpressAid clinic, where shoppers can get treatment for common ailments such as colds and allergies, as well as screenings, physicals, immunizations and flu shots.

Also, patients can get their prescriptions filled for $4 each, all under the same roof.

In addition to the $4 prescription plan, Wal-Mart executives say the store’s latest mission is to help find a solution to the nation’s growing healthcare crisis.

The company began opening in-store clinics in 2005, and currently has more than 70 clinics in 12 states.

In its effort to provide low-cost, quality medical services, the $285-billion-dollar retail company teamed up with local healthcare providers from Broward
Health to open walk-in clinics in the two stores in Coral Springs and Lauderdale Lakes.

The move may change the way many residents get their basic healthcare.

“We don’t want to compete with primary-care physicians. It’s an addition of a service,’’ said Christian Rodrigue, who is in charge of the ExpressAid clinics.

“The purpose is to provide an extra layer of service or another option such as the after-hours and weekends or if someone is new in the area and doesn’t have a doctor—at an affordable cost.’’

The clinics currently do not accept any insurance or Medicaid. They target people who work but do not have insurance to cover the escalating cost of medical attention.

With prices displayed openly so patients can see them in advance, the clinics allow customers to catch potential serious conditions in their early stages.

With test and screening prices that are lower than the cost of an emergency room visit, the uninsured have an affordable way to visit the doctor.
ExpressAid charges $55 for a doctor’s exam, $75 for a consultation plus one diagnostic test, and $95 if more than one test is needed.

With little to no wait time, board-certified nurse practitioners diagnose, treat and prescribe medications, as physicians provide oversight by giving guidelines and reviewing patients’ charts.

Urgent care that isn’t life-threatening—a broken leg or a small laceration—is provided, also.

Patients who need serious care or have abnormal test results are sent to a hospital emergency room or a Broward Health primary care physician.

In this way, the clinics also serve as an entry-point to Broward Health, which is formerly known as the North Broward Hospital District.

The healthcare system encompass 30 healthcare facilities, including Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Broward Health Center and the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital at Broward General.

“We are working within strict guidelines. We want to practice within what we can offer. We don’t want to start playing the small emergency room,” Rodrigue said.

One other benefit that the ExpressAid clinics provide is that they are open longer than a regular doctor’s office, so patients can go there after work.

“I’m going to be telling everybody that they should go to Express because it’s affordable,’’ said Harding, the Coconut Creek resident who recently visited one of the clinics. “I walked in not using my insurance and the tests cost less than my co-pay.’’

Tayltra9@Aol.com

Photo by Sumner Hutcheson III. Nurse practitioner Tracey Tordella, left, checks the heartbeat of patient Angela Harding, right, at an ExpressAid Clinic.



IF YOU GO:

WHAT: ExpressAid clinics at Wal-Mart.

WHERE: In Wal-Mart stores at 3001 N. State Road 7 in Lauderdale Lakes and 3801 Turtle Creek Drive in Coral Springs.

WHEN:  The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

CONTACT:
For more information, email: info@browardhealth.org, or log onto www.expressaid.org.