No appointment necessary at MinuteClinic

Target stores offer office to treat minor illnesses

September 19, 2004|By Kevin T. McVey | Kevin T. McVey,SUN STAFF

Those with minor medical ailments in Harford County who might be wary of the wait at their doctor's office have a new alternative: the Target store on Middleton Road in Aberdeen.

MinuteClinic, a Minnesota company amid a nationwide expansion, has opened one of its "mini medical office" locations at the retail giant, promising limited medical treatment taking no longer than a half-hour at what it hopes will be affordable rates for those with and without health insurance.

"This is an alternative for people who really don't want to wait in an emergency room just for a strep throat," said nurse-practitioner Julie Schiminger, who works in the Aberdeen Target.

MinuteClinic, whose slogan is "You're sick. We're quick," first opened in May 2000 in Cubs Foods stores in Minneapolis as an alternative to doctors' offices. Since then, the company has treated more than 160,000 patients with a 99 percent satisfaction rate, said Donna Haugland, a nurse practitioner and director of MinuteClinic's operations in Maryland.

"We attribute that rate to MinuteClinic's convenience and affordability," Haugland said.

The wait and cost are designed to be minimal, with treatment for most illnesses ranging from $25 to $44. To keep the wait short, the clinic accepts only patients with such common ailments as strep throat, pink eye, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, poison ivy, bladder infections and seasonal allergies.

It also provides vaccines, including tetanus, pneumonia and Hepatitis B. The clinic will begin to administer flu shots Oct. 1. Patients with a more serious condition will be referred to their physician or the emergency room.

Family nurse practitioners such as Schiminger can see patients and prescribe antibiotics and treatments. They offer some of the same care as physicians such as taking health histories, performing physical exams and diagnosing and treating common acute and chronic health problems.

"The greatest source of people are coming from referrals from family and friends," Haugland said. "Employers are encouraging employees to come here for insurance reasons, but there will always be people who are skeptical because of the setting."

The routine at MinuteClinic is similar in some ways to that of a doctor's office. Patients fill out a consent form, along with insurance information and log their arrival.

But those who don't want to wait 15 or 20 minutes to be seen can get a pager from a basket at the clinic's window, write the pager number on the sign-in sheet and shop in the Target store until they are called.

MinuteClinic visits are covered by some Baltimore-area insurance providers, with patients paying a co-pay. MinuteClinic also treats patients without insurance.

"It's nice that families can come in and don't have to make multiple appointments," Haugland said. "They will come in and we can see two or three of them in here."

The MinuteClinic in Aberdeen is one of several MinuteClinics in Baltimore-area Target stores. A location opened in Towson on Aug. 17, and the clinic at the Bel Air store opened Friday. Stores also are expected to open this month in Ellicott City, Laurel and Glen Burnie.

Haugland and her Aberdeen staff said that the MinuteClinics should not take business away from doctors' offices.

"We are an adjunct to doctors' offices, not a replacement," Haugland said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.