St. Mary's opens walk-in clinic in Auburn Walmart

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Ashley Gauthier, left, office secretary, talks to Chris Buhrow of Sabattus as she leaves The Clinic at Walmart on its opening day Monday. Buhrow had called her primary care physician and was referred to the St. Mary's satellite location because her doctor is on vacation. According to the provider, Brett Auclaire, family nurse practitioner, she had seen patients ranging in age from 3 to 93 halfway through her day.

AUBURN — When Chris Buhrow of Sabattus called her doctor's office Monday for help with an infection, she had to hear the the answer twice.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

If there is a waiting line for The Clinic at Walmart, patients will be given a paging device that will vibrate when the family nurse practitioner or physician assistant is available to see them, allowing them to shop within the store while waiting for treatment.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Family nurse practitioner Brett Auclaire listens to breath sounds of Chris Buhrow during her visit to The Clinic at Walmart in Auburn on Monday. "I called my primary care physician and was told she's on vacation for two weeks,"  Buhrow explained. "They told me to come here or the ER, and I didn't want to sit in the ER for hours."

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Nurse Samantha Whittier takes the pulse and oxygen reading of Chris Buhrow on the opening day of The Clinic at Walmart on Monday.

"I said, 'What?'" Buhrow said. "'Go to Walmart?'"

A few minutes later — beneath a sign listing a wide variety of ailments — it seemed less puzzling. The $48 price covers treatments for sore throats and shingles, head lice and pinkeye, burns, bites and bladder infections.

"They took me right in," she said. "I didn't have to wait in the emergency room for two hours."

The Clinic at Walmart was created as a means of increasing access to medicine, said Jennifer Radel, spokeswoman for St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

"St. Mary's has a long history of going to the people," Radel said.

The corridor outside the clinic, which faces the registers at the front of the building, is one of the busiest spots in Lewiston-Auburn. 

On Monday, St. Mary's workers celebrated the opening by handing out 1,000 ball caps with the "Clinic at Walmart" logo on them. By 3 p.m. they'd run out and began giving away water bottles along with literature on the offerings at the clinic, its prices and hours.

It is open at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. It will close at 8 p.m. on weeknights and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. On Sunday, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Essentially, the clinic is the same one that operated at 15 Gracelawn Road in Auburn. It will be overseen by a doctor and features treatment by a rotating group that includes a physician assistant and two family nurse practitioners. The expenses will be covered by most insurance plans, Radel said.

The clinic will have its limits.

While a surprising number of acute problems can be treated there, anyone with trauma or severe problems is encouraged to call an emergency room. And visitors to the clinic will also be given information on choosing a primary care doctor if they don't have one.

A similar clinic operates at the Walmart in Waterville and at Walmarts in many other states, Radel said.

By midafternoon Monday, nine people had been treated, Radel said.

But she expected that would rise as people saw the prices and ease of treatment. The operators even hoped to cut down on lines at the clinic by taking a bit of technology from chain restaurants.

People will have the choice of sitting at the clinic or shopping and carrying a device that lights up and vibrates when their turn comes up.

"We think we're going to be very busy," Radel said.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Brett Auclaire, family nurse practitioner, left, Deborah Wing, medical assistant, center, and Paulette Crowley, practice director, discuss setup on the opening day of The Clinic at Walmart. The small satellite location of St. Mary's offers two exam rooms, a bathroom and a small reception area.

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Gary Ham's picture

Is CMMC "asleep at the switch"?

Inland Hospital has clinics in the Waterville & Augusta Wal-Marts. Now; St.Marys has one in the Auburn Wal-Mart.
I wonder if CMMC has considered doing something like this?
I'm pretty sure that the Brunswick Wal-Mart doesn't have one of these. I wonder if CMMC will try to open one there, or if Mid Coast Hospital will beat them to it....

Good idea..especially with

Good idea..especially with the cost of a hospital visit..and the fact that you can shop while you wait for your turn


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