Community Health takes over a dozen Walgreens area clinics

Community Health Network has taken over the walk-in health clinics at 12 Walgreens stores in central Indiana with the hope of turning customers into new patients for its network.

In recent weeks, Walgreens stores from Carmel to Mooresville shut down their in-store clinics, known as “Walgreens Take Care,” and re-opened them several days later as “Community Clinic at Walgreens.” The clinics are now staffed by Community Health Network nurse practitioners.

The move could give Community a huge new stream of business if they can convert store customers into long-term patients. About 30 percent of American consumers visit a Walgreens each month, translating into thousands of visits per store.

 “We are trying to tap into Walgreens and turn their customers into our patients,” said Wendy Horn, vice president for business development at Community Health.

About 40 percent of them don’t have primary care doctors, and Community wants to treat them and get them into their network of physicians and hospitals for future care, Horn said. She described it as a “new patient acquisition strategy.”

The move pushes Community further into the growing trend of retail health care, offering health care to walk-in customers without an appointment. Community also operates seven MedCheck urgent-care centers, where people can get treatment for sprains, stitches for cuts and sports physicals. It also operates eight hospitals and numerous health pavilions, rehabilitation centers, imaging centers and other facilities.

Walgreens has been shedding its walk-in clinics around the nation in recent years. It sold 56 clinics in Chicago to Advocate Health Care, 27 clinics in Atlanta to Piedmont Healthcare, and 17 clinics in South Florida to the University of Miami Health System.

The pharmacy chain, based in Chicago, has said it wants to focus on its retail operations. Walgreens is the second largest pharmacy retail chain in the nation, behind CVS.

Community acquired the Walgreens clinics in the Indianapolis area for an undisclosed price, and reopened them last month as part of a “soft launch.” As part of a new marketing push, representatives from Community and Walgreens plan to kick off the rebranded clinics Wednesday afternoon with a news conference at the Walgreens store in Beech Grove.

Under the arrangement, Community leases the space from Walgreens and owns the operations. The clinics are co-branded with abundant signs to feature both Community and Walgreens names.

“Walgreens knows retail. We know health care,” Horn said.

Retail clinics are seen as a convenient, cost-saving alternative to physician offices and hospital emergency rooms. Patients who need flu shots, treatment for an earache or other medical help can walk in without an appointment to see a nurse practitioner.

The partnership is the latest collaboration between Community and Walgreens. Last year, Walgreens took over the pharmacy operations at three Community Hospital locations.

The Community Clinic at Walgreens are located at:

•    11020 Pendleton Pike, Indianapolis
•    115 Fields Road, Mooresville
•    3455 Mann Road, Indianapolis
•    35454 W. 86th St., Indianapolis
•    6191 N. Keystone Ave., Indianapolis
•    7975 E. U.S. Highway 36, Avon
•    1530 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis
•    1290 N. State Route 135, Greenwood
•    8905 E. 10th St., Indianapolis
•    1808 N. Albany St., Beech Grove
•    700 U.S. 31 South, Greenwood
•    1424 S. Rangeline Road, Carmel.

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