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New one-stop shops for health care in NH - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New one-stop shops for health care in NH

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WEST LEBANON, N.H. -

It's a busy Tuesday at West Lebanon's 12A plazas as shoppers look for deals. But now, in addition to buying gifts, they can get a checkup at the same time.

"Ear infections, sinus infection, sore throats, the flu," said Anne Pohnert of Minute Clinic.

A new Minute Clinic in the CVS Pharmacy is available to anyone feeling ill, or patients who want to diagnose a small problem before it becomes a big one.

"We actually do some monitoring and screening tests for conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes," Pohnert said.

The clinics are affiliated with CVS Pharmacies around the country. But this one is partnering with the region's largest health care provider, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

"The first discovery of a chronic disease like high blood pressure might happen at a place like this, and then the Minute Clinic can attach that patient to us to take care of their ongoing chronic needs," said Dr. Ethan Berke of DHMC.

The clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner and no appointment is needed. Doctors with the medical center will provide expertise and support when needed.

"If we can treat someone's blood pressure before it leads to a heart attack or a stroke, it's a huge savings," said Dr. Michael Adams, the medical director of the Minute Clinic.

Minute Clinic staffers say a $500 visit to the emergency room may only cost $80 at the clinic. And most insurance plans are accepted. Prices and common medical problems treated here are listed on the wall.

One goal is to keep patients out of the ER, which officials say drives up the cost of care.

"Quality care and timely care, and we want to make sure people get access to the preventive things they need, as well," Adams said.

Officials say it also provides continuity of care. Medical history is recorded digitally and can be shared by willing patients, allowing those without a primary care doctor to hook up with one in the area.

"So it might mean more patients for us, but it won't be exclusively with us and we are OK with that," Berke said.

Minute Clinics are now in 28 states and the District of Columbia, and they have served more than 17 million people, patients who doctors say might otherwise end up in the ER at a higher cost with less convenience.

A total of six clinics will open in New Hampshire in the next two months. New York also has Minute Clinics, but so far, none have opened in New York's North Country.

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