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Boston could get first for-profit urgent-care clinic, in West Roxbury

A Weymouth-based chain of walk-in urgent-care clinics goes before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals next week for permission to open an outlet in what is now a closed martial arts center next to where the Panera used to be on Spring Street in West Roxbury.

As mayor, Thomas Menino famously campaigned to keep such clinics out of Boston, in particular CVS's MinuteClinics. Several neighborhood health centers and hospitals in Boston do operate urgent-care centers, where people can walk in and get medical attention.

Dr. Christopher Whelan's Health Care Express would be the first for-profit urgent-care clinic in Boston, and the chain's first outlet outside the South Shore.

Medical clinics are a "conditional" use in the strip mall next to the Star Market, which means they're allowed, after a review by the zoning board. In his application, Whelan writes the clinic would provide "walk in, high quality medical care from an emergency-room trained doctor that is both fast and convenient."

The zoning-board hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10, in the board's eighth-floor hearing room in City Hall.

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Comments

I don't have any thoughts or experience with this particular "chain," but the overall notion that someone's health and treatment can become the subject of profit-maximizing seems terribly greedy.

Maybe it's really nothing new, but the rise in these clinic businesses just feels gross -- and it's especially telling to watch where they to pop up the most (poor neighborhoods, Wal-Marts, etc).

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I know that when I needed to get a flu shot for a toddler, it was way easier to get one at a minute clinic than trying to make it to a flu clinic at the pediatrician. Similarly when we were traveling and suspected a toddler had an ear infection, these were much better than going to an emergency. So they have a place it seems which is a better option for after hours care than a hospital.

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You're right, you shouldn't have to go to the hospital for basic vaccinations, blood draws, easy stuff like strep tests or screenings...

I see what you're saying.

That being said, I think the difference is convenience, not business model - why can't such clinics offer those basic services, and still operate as a non-profit business?

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Run by both hospitals and neighborhood health centers.

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They also do many pre employment physicals and drug testings.

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No, they go where the money is. If you look at where Health Express's clinics are and then take a look at CVS's version, you're going to see a lot of places that are pretty far from poor. While West Roxbury may not be Wellesley, on average, it's hardly poor, either.

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Being against a model that helps drive down health costs and deliver service to those in need purely because it's run by a business is what's scummy. Things like minute clinics have proven a very positive development, particularly for low income people.

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I'm not sure I can get too worked up about this (and other) for-profit medical centers. Are they really that different from the "non-profit" Partners Healthcare and Atrius Health, etc.? I feel pretty certain that we could find examples of profit maximizing by "non-profit" health care systems...

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There's one near me in Porter Square, which I would not call a poor neighborhood.

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All medicine is for profit. The only difference is the Minute Clinics don't fuck around with insurance and billing and dragging the whole absurd process out. A strep test at one of these is approx. 100$, cash on table, in and out, done and done. Last time I needed a strep test done it was a nightmare to find an urgent care that would take my (somewhat unusual) insurance. Even when they could confirm over the phone they'd take it, they couldn't tell me how much a strep test would run. So then I go in and it's like a 4 hour wait because this was an urgent care / er combo and every single person without insurance in the city was waiting around.

The CVS model may be kind of skummy but the entirety of the medical industry in this country is equally skummy. At least with CVS everything is above the board.

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I grew up with tons of these in Virginia as a kid and I actually really like the model. Down in VA there are plenty of these. They take your health insurance just like anyone else and it keeps you from having to go to the hospital/ER for more urgent things that don't require an ER visit.

Two years ago I slashed my hand open working on a project and one of these would have been perfect as all I needed was either a few stitches or some wound glue to close it up. But since my PCP's urgent care clinic (They do have one) closes at 8pm and this happened after 10pm, I had to go to the nearest hospital (BMC - bad idea on a Friday night). I ended up waiting in the waiting room for over 4 hours and finally left before being seen by a physician because after getting wrapped up by a triage nurse the bleeding stopped and I went to my PCP the next day instead. Total waste of time & money.

An urgent care clinic, especially one open 24/7, would be perfect for this scenario or when your kid gets the flu or all sorts of other easy, rote doctor needs. Save your PCP or the ER for larger health issues or emergencies and let these cheaper clinics handle the routine stuff.

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extra outlet for emergency care is a plus in my book, especially since it's closer than a hospital. I thinks it's better than having another bakery/coffee shop or fruit basket delivery service even though I may never use the clinic's medical services, at least it's there.

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More of these clinics are a good thing.

Emergency rooms are crazy, and it's a pain to get an appointment with many doctors' offices, be it for urgent care or non-emergency matters.

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To see a doctor of any large metro area in the country, even though we're also saturated with hospitals, doctors and medical facilities.

Dallas has the shortest wait time.

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