Despite the fact that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is not a supporter of the retail clinic model, the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston may soon become something of a battleground between convenient-care providers as news leaked out of Walgreen subsidiary Take Care Health Systems plans to follow CVS Caremark Corp.s MinuteClinics into the Boston market.
Both are tentatively scheduled to open this fall. The Boston Globe reported that Take Care submitted an application to state officials to open 16 clinics, but corporate spokeswoman Lauren Tierney said that was a preliminary plan and the number of stores and their possible locations has yet to be finalized. She added that there are currently 173 Take Care clinics open in the U.S., and the plan is to have more than 400 operating by the end of 2008 with several in the Boston metro area. There are some 500 MinuteClinics currently open.
Menino is concerned that the retail clinics will hurt the areas network of community health centers and convened a task force in February to explore ways of improving primary-care access. Ann Scales, spokeswoman for the Boston Public Health Commission, said the panel may release its recommendations within the next few weeks. Tierney, however, said Take Care is designed to complement rather than replace an existing healthcare network, that information is shared with patients primary-care physicians and that Take Care works to find medical homes for patients who do not have one. -- by Andis Robeznieks