There was a letter to the editor in the Roanoke Times newspaper several days ago about “retail health clinics.” For those readers unfamiliar with the term, it basically means a nurse or physician’s assistant working in a retail store and seeing/treating patients with minor medical problems. The author of that letter, Dr. Mark Schleupner, correctly recognized there is a place for these retail health clinics in providing care to those Americans without insurance or a regular doctor.
It is not an ideal situation but…what is the alternative for the uninsured and poor? Wait in an already overcrowded Emergency Room at the local hospital? That just doesn’t make sense to me! Some Roanoke Valley doctors are not taking new patients – what are these people supposed to do when they need a doctor?
Unfortunately, today’s edition of the Roanoke Times contains a letter to the editor from Dr. Mark Watts, President-elect of the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Watts enjoys a fine reputation in our community but I take issue with his position on retail health clinics. Dr. Watts’ criticizes retail health clinics as “catering to “consumer’s desire for instant service.” He also mentions the “significant limitations” of retail health clinics – although he fails to tell us what those limitations are.
I have a question for Dr. Watts. What are the limitations imposed by Carilion on its primary care providers when they are told to spend no more that 10 minutes with each patient?