JOLIET – Walgreens unveiled its new “well experience” format Monday, featuring better pharmacist access and a private health room where patients can receive immunizations and consultations.
Company management was at a grand reopening ceremony Monday at the 24-hour store at Larkin and Ingalls avenues to showcase a format that is going into other stores, including the Walgreens on Cass Street.
Darren Benton, regional manager for Walgreens Company, said the company is positioning itself as a “convenience store for health care.”
“We wanted to make it more of a health care environment,” Benton said. “This will be the new standard.”
The change focuses primarily on getting pharmacists out in front of customers, where they can provide more counseling to patients, offer clinical services and answer questions. Walgreens redesigned its pharmacy area and modified its work flow to accommodate the change.
“Pharmacy is still our core business,” store manager Marty Young said.
The need for access to basic primary care has surged in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, said Jack Beaudoin, Walgreens marketing manager for the southwest Chicago region.
Walgreens fills a niche for patients who don’t have access to health care, offering minor episodic services for cold and flu patients, as well as treatment for chronic problems such as diabetes and hypertension, Beaudoin said.
The drug store’s clinic offers walk-in convenience and charges less than an urgent care center, Beaudoin noted. Prices are about the same patients would expect to pay at a primary care center. A sports physical, for example, runs $60, and a mumps/measles/rubella vaccination costs $99. Most insurance plans are accepted.
“Obviously, it’s a lot more economical to come here than to be seen at an emergency room for a head cold,” Beaudoin said.
The clinics are staffed by family nurse practitioners.
The company plans to unveil its renovated store on Cass Street on Thursday. Walgreens has 33 stores in the Joliet region, Benton said, and all eventually will be given the pharmacy and exam room upgrades.
Other companies are taking advantage of the increase in business under the Affordable Care Act, as well.
Physicians Immediate Care opened a new 3,500-square-foot urgent care facility at Black Road and Larkin Avenue in July. The center offers X-rays, lab tests, treatment of injuries that aren’t life-threatening and minor surgical procedures.
CVS, Walgreens main competitor, began offering in-store clinics in 2000 on a limited basis. The service proved so popular it was expanded nationally. Walgreens followed in 2006.
The CVS service, MinuteClinic, is offered locally at 3200 Caton Farm Road store, and at 1155 W. Jefferson St. in Shorewood.