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North Shore-LIJ teams up to oversee CVS walk-in clinics

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System has partnered with CVS Caremark Corp. to provide medical oversight of walk-in clinics inside three CVS pharmacies.

Under the agreement being announced Wednesday, North Shore-LIJ doctors will act as medical directors for the clinics, housed within CVS pharmacies in Bellport, Syosset and Staten Island.

The clinics, which opened in 2006, are staffed by nurse practitioners hired by MinuteClinic, a division of CVS. The nurse practitioners can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common illnesses such as strep throat, ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections and minor wounds and sprains. They also can perform physicals for camps, sports and colleges. No appointments are needed, most health insurance is accepted and costs are posted.

The medical directors for these clinics will collaborate with the nurse practitioners and be available for consultations, said North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam. Those patients who need more care can be referred to doctors -- although not necessarily within North Shore-LIJ, he said.

"We hope many will come to our facilities but it's not a case where the nurse practitioner hands the patient a North Shore-LIJ phone number," Lynam said.

The affiliation is "a way to improve access to care," he said. "The big focus now is on expanding outpatient services into the community."

Dr. Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic, said it is the largest and fastest growing retail clinic chain in the country, with 650 clinics in 25 states and the District of Columbia. About half of these are affiliated with large health systems, including the Cleveland Clinic and the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, he said.

Two other CVS clinics operate in New York, both in Westchester County. Neither is affiliated with a health system, Sussman said.

He said the company plans to add 150 more clinics nationwide in 2013, with a goal of 1,500 clinics by 2017. Asked whether these include any in New York, he said there are "plans to expand but it is premature to get into numbers."

Critics have worried that retail clinics owned by pharmacy chains could have an incentive to overprescribe medications. That does not appear to be the case, according to a 2010 Rand Corp. study.

The quality of care also appeared to be comparable to that delivered in traditional medical settings in the conditions studied, it found.


Clinic hours of operation


The clinics at the Syosset CVS, at 55 Cold Spring Rd., and the Staten Island CVS on Hylan Boulevard are open Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The clinic in the Bellport CVS, at 107 S. Country Rd., is open Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sundays, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

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