Wal-Mart opening health clinic in Palestine

Published on Sunday, 27 July 2014 17:35 - Written by Casey Murphy cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Wal-Mart customers will soon have another reason to visit the store — health care.

The company that claims to offer everything for a discount is undergoing a pilot program, offering health clinics inside their super centers. Three already have opened in Texas, and one is planned to open in the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Palestine on Aug. 8, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said.

The first Wal-Mart Care Clinic opened in Copperas Cove in April, with clinics in Benbrook and Carrollton following in June.

So far, Palestine is the only other Texas town scheduled to get a Wal-Mart clinic, as well as two in South Carolina, she said. They are part of a dozen clinics scheduled to open under the pilot program this year, but other locations have not been announced.

Ms. Marquardt, who is based at Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, said the clinics will be staffed by nurse practitioners and nurses and will give customers and Wal-Mart associates access to health care.

“As the largest private employer in the U.S., we are committed to finding ways to drive down health care costs for the more than 1.1 million associates and family members covered by Wal-Mart health care plans nationwide,” Ms. Marquardt said. “For most Wal-Mart associates and their families who are on a Walmart health plan, the Wal-Mart Care Clinic office visit costs them only $4. For our customers, an office visit to the Wal-Mart Care Clinic will cost $40.”

The Palestine clinic will serve more than 1,800 Wal-Mart associates working in stores and distribution centers in the area, she said.

Since 2005, Wal-Mart has leased space in its stores to local health systems and other health care providers who own and operate clinics, and provide basic acute care in its stores. More than 100 of these clinics are in Wal-Mart stores across the U.S. as of April.

The scope of services offered at the clinics will include wellness and preventative care; such as health screenings, vaccinations and lab testing; basic acute care, including diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, such as flu and strep; management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure; and referrals to specialists.

Wal-Mart is working with QuadMed to help source and manage qualified health care professionals who will serve patients in the clinics. QuadMed offers onsite primary care clinics and health care management solutions designed to increase quality and decrease costs, she said.

Ms. Marquardt said the company is “looking for ways to drive down health care costs for associates and their family members.”

Wal-Mart is getting great feedback from employees and customers from the clinics, which take up about 1,000 square feet inside the supercenters, that have already opened, she said.

“All parts of the health care system play an important role in our communities,” Ms. Marquardt said. “We aim to be part of a continuum of care while driving down costs for our associates and customers.