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More Americans turn to retail health clinics - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

More Americans turn to retail health clinics

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NEW YORK -

When KyLee Bird felt under the weather she didn't go to the doctor, she headed to Walgreens.

"I was feeling sick, had some symptoms I needed to take care of and needed some place quick to go in," she said.

In-store clinics like this are convenient. Patients who don't want to wait for a doctor's appointment can walk in and see a nurse practitioner.

"People usually come in for a sore throat or a sinus infection," said Ellen Deluca, a nurse practitioner.

Several well-known retailers have clinics in selected stores. There are about 1,400 right now and more are on the way because companies are expecting a big boost in business.

About 30 million Americans will receive health insurance next year under the president's Affordable Health Care Act. It comes at a time when the nation is experiencing a physician shortage.

Nurses at Walgreens can diagnose more than coughs and colds, they can now treat chronic conditions like high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.

The American Academy of Family Physicians worries patients won't receive complete care if they rely on in-store clinics.

"If someone gets a piece of their health care here, their diabetes, a piece with high blood pressure somewhere else, we miss the chance to treat the whole person," said Dr. Jeff Cain, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

But Walgreens says these clinics fill a need.

"We believe that everybody should have a primary care physician, the reality is not everybody does," said Heather Helle of the Consumer Solutions Group at Walgreens.

And that's another reason why the industry expects the number of retail clinics to double over the next three years.

Nurse practitioners will refer patients to a doctor or hospital if they come in with a condition they are not equipped to handle.

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