By Jonathan Samples | Bugle Staff
When faced with a sudden illness such as the flu or a severe cold, oftentimes the only option for immediate care is the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
That pricey and time consuming option presents challenges to many families and individuals who lack timely access to quality healthcare, according to Dr. Rosa Perez, family medicine specialist for Advocate Medical Group.
“I have seen the anxiety that parents face when their child has a bad cold [or] painful ear infection and don’t know where to go for such a short term illness,” Perez said during a May 18 ceremony marking the launch of 56 Advocate-run healthcare clinics at Walgreens stores throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. “I think the clinics here at Walgreens will provide a great opportunity for that.”
Perez joined officials from Advocate Health Care and Walgreens at the retailer’s Downers Grove store to celebrate the partnership, which includes transferring operations of Walgreens’ Chicagoland in-store health clinics to Illinois’ largest health system.
Branded as Advocate Clinic at Walgreens, the convenient neighborhood locations will expand access to affordable, high-quality care, according to the Downers Grove-based healthcare provider.
“Advocate is a world class provider that has been and continues to be at the forefront of population health medicine,” said Elizabeth Beranek, director of physician practice management at Advocate Medical Group. “That means we are looking at increasing our outcomes, patient populations, access and quality. These clinics open avenues to high-quality care in a low-cost, neighborhood, convenient environment.”
Perez said the clinics will provide vaccinations, physicals and acute care for various injuries and common illnesses, such as strep throat, migraines, cold and flu, sprains and upper respiratory infections.
Patients can expect to pay a flat fee of $89 for many of the services offered at the clinics, which will also accept the same broad insurances as providers throughout the Advocate Medical Group. Board-certified nurse practitioners and medical assistants employed by Advocate Medical Group will staff the in-store clinics, most of which are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Downers Grove resident Patty Wardlow said that the convenience and peace of mind make all the difference during common health emergencies.
“Those scary moments when you don’t know where to turn, having this clinic in this location is going to help hundreds and hundreds of families just like mine have easy and affordable access to healthcare,” Wardlow said.
While individuals who visit the Walgreens clinics do not need to be a current Advocate patient to receive care, the clinics will be integrated with Advocate’s electronic health record and billing systems. This, according to the hospital system, will create a seamless patient experience and increase continuity of care.
“It also helps us to fulfill our commitment to creating an innovative healthcare system, which ultimately will improve care coordination, access to electronic medical records and increase our patient experience,” Beranek said.
As a part of the Advocate system, clinic patients have the option to schedule appointments, review medical records, receive test results, chat with physicians and refill prescriptions through the MyAdvocate portal.
“These clinics have the opportunity to transform healthcare throughout the Chicago region to all the patients we serve,” Beranek added. “This model will bring the necessary healthcare to our patients when and where they need it.”
By the start of next year, officials hope to expand care offerings at Advocate Clinic at Walgreens to children as young as 6 months.
In addition to Downers Grove, individuals can visit clinics in Aurora, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Glen Ellyn, Joliet, Lockport, Mokena, Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Plainfield, Romeoville, St. Charles and Westmont, among other Advocate Clinic at Walgreens locations in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.