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Pittsfield Walk-In Care Center Part Of Market 32 Strategy

Jim Levulis

Berkshire Health Systems has partnered with Price Chopper to open a walk-in care center in the supermarket’s Hubbard Avenue location currently being renovated in Pittsfield. Its part of the supermarket’s strategy as it rebrands itself as Market 32.Staffed by a family nurse practitioner, Berkshire Health Systems Walk-In Care is located next to the store’s pharmacy. BHS spokesman Michael Leary says people 2 and older can receive care at the center for strep throat, urinary tract infections as well as cold and flu symptoms.

“Things that you may have considered at one time going to the emergency room for,” Leary said. “That’s another factor that’s involved in this. The cost of care in a hospital emergency department is fairly expensive for the treatment of minor illness and injury.”

The walk-in will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with the hopes of expanding to weekends. Leary says BHS is encouraging people to contact their primary care doctor first and if they are unable to get a convenient appointment utilize the walk-in. Another goal is to alleviate pressure on hospital emergency rooms for issues that aren’t as serious, according to Leary. He added this is one way to address what national healthcare leaders see as a primary care physician shortage.

Price Chopper’s Vice President of Pharmacy Kathy Bryant says the walk-in aligns with the chain’s health and wellness goals.

“The scope of practice for pharmacists is evolving,” Bryant said. “Prescription filling will always be the core of our business, but we are being asked to provide more patient-centered services. Already providing these services such as immunizations and medication therapy management, which is a reimbursable service by health plans. This all aligns with the primary care providers and hospitals need to provide better outcomes at a reduced cost.”

Bryant says there isn’t much concern about sick people coming into a grocery store, adding that people come in regardless and the walk-in allows them to seek care.

Partnering with Ellis Medicine, Price Chopper opened similar clinics at its Malta and Latham locations about 18 months ago. According to the Convenient Care Association, the industry has grown quickly since the first clinics opened in 2000. There are more than 1,900 such care centers in 43 states today in stores like CVS, Walgreens, WalMart and Target, according to the trade group. Bryant says the Schenectady-based Price Chopper has a more regional approach.

“We look to keep the brand of the healthcare provider local,” said Bryant. “Ellis Medicine is located here in Schenectady. So their clinics in our stores are in the region that they actually practice medicine. So for customers and patients coming into the store they’re seeing those same providers that they’re seeing when they go to the hospital, primary care provider or emergency room.” 

Leary of Berkshire Health Systems says the walk-in’s nurse practitioner will provide notes to a patient’s primary care doctor following a visit.

Price Choppers in Wilton, Clifton Park and the Pittsfield store are the first three of the chain’s $300 million rebranding as Market 32, a nod to the company’s start in 1932. Each store is being renovated. Bryant says the goal is to open a walk-in center in every Market 32 where the company can find a willing regional healthcare provider.

“It’s really about convenience,” Bryant said. “It’s really about expanding our pharmacy services and being able to collaborate with these organizations around other things. Such as we may want to collaborate and partner on a blood pressure screening for patients. Price Chopper has a robust diabetes advantage program which is a comprehensive program around the diabetic patient. So these are programs that we would look to partner with these organizations to help their patients achieve better outcomes.”

Bryant says Golub Corporation plans to convert all of its 135 Price Chopper stores across New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire within a 10-year period.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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