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VOL. 128 | NO. 212 | Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Health Coverage

Little Clinic adds locales, expands presence inside Kroger stores

By Michael Waddell

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The Little Clinic is opening its sixth and seventh limited-care clinics in the Memphis area this month as part of a growth plan that includes 30 new Little Clinics opening in Kroger stores in 2013.

Family nurse practitioner Kayla Harville works at The Little Clinic in Stonebridge, one of two new limited-care clinics in the Memphis area. The clinic is part of a growth plan that includes 30 new Little Clinics through 2013. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Earlier this month, a Little Clinic opened in Atoka at 11630 U.S. 51 S., and, by month’s end, another clinic will open in Arlington at 9025 U.S. 64.

“Over the past couple of years we have been in a growth mode and are now up to 106 clinics, and by the end of the year, we will probably have close to 120 clinics across six states,” said Dr. Ken Patric, chief medical officer for The Little Clinic. “Our plan is to continue to grow. We will fill in the markets that we are currently in, and then we will begin to expand outward.”

As many as 50 new locations are planned for next year in Kroger’s existing markets. Previously, Little Clinics simply consisted of prefabricated units without plumbing that were stuck in corners of Kroger stores. Those are being phased out and replaced with updated facilities.

“Now they really look like a little doctor’s office inside the store,” Patric said. “They are permanently built in and are much quieter.”

The new clinics will include two exam rooms, a private waiting area, an electronic registration kiosk and a patient-care technician to assist in helping patients with registration, health records, insurance, and any other tasks to maximize the patient experience and minimize wait time.

Patric estimates the price of installing each clinic at roughly $30,000 before equipment costs.

“The cost depends on whether we are going into an existing store and remodeling or going into a new store,” Patric said. “If we go into a new store, much of the cost is borne by Kroger.”

He expects the clinics to see an increasing number of patients due to the ongoing changes brought on by health care reform.

“We are already beginning to see some of that, and our competitors are too,” Patric said.

The Little Clinic competes most closely with other convenient care clinics, such as the Minute Clinic at CVS and The Healthcare Clinic in Walgreens.

“This industry is obviously growing, and I think a lot of that is due to a change in consumerism since there is now more emphasis on convenience, availability and affordability,” said Patric, who believes consumers now want a one-stop shopping experience where they can also visit the pharmacy and get their weekly groceries.

“Years ago, the thought of having a pharmacy inside a grocery store was considered a crazy idea, and the idea of having them inside every grocery store was even crazier. And yet now every one of them is busy and serves a need in the community,” Patric said. ‘So it is not outside the realm of possibility that one day there will be a Little Clinic inside every Kroger store.”

The Little Clinic provides care for patients 18 months and older (24 months and older in Kentucky). The clinics are open seven days a week, including evenings, and no appointments are necessary.

“Looking at our target demographics, our largest category is women aged 25 to 50 and their children,” Patric said.

The clinics are staffed with board-certified nurse practitioners authorized to diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common illnesses, such as bronchitis, sinus and ear infections, seasonal allergies and the flu. They also provide a variety of services such as camp and sports physicals, health screenings and vaccinations.

The average cost of a standard office visit is $85, and additional lab work is extra.

The Little Clinic operates five other clinics in Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett and Cordova; and expansion is also currently taking place in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona.

The Little Clinic was founded by two pharmacists in 2003 inside Kroger stores in Louisville, and the company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Kroger since 2010.

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