FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Staffed by doctors from the Norwalk Hospital group, the Fast Care Clinic at the Stop & Shop on Kings Highway Cutoff in Fairfield is the first of its kind in New England.
“I consider this is a mini-clinic,” said Tracey Chameides, office supervisor for the Norwalk Hospital Physicians and Surgeons.
The clinic has only one exam room, and if there is a long line, patients will be given beepers so they can continue shopping while waiting for the doctor to become available, Chameides said.
This is the 34th Fast Care clinic in the country, and the first clinic that Stop & Shop has opened outside of its Pennsylvania stores.
“Health care has changed,” said Dr. Michael Marks, vice president for business development at Norwalk Hospital. One issue with getting immediate medical care is that primary physicians don’t always have time to see a patient when help is needed.
Dr. Richard Singer, a Westport resident, is medical director for Norwalk Hospital's walk-in clinics, including the Fast Care Clinic. Singer said he was excited to see this kind of innovation in the medical community.
The new clinic brings health care to where the patients already are and when they need help, something that he said he has always tried to do in his practice.
"This takes it to the next level," Singer said.
Many people who need to see a doctor go to emergency rooms or urgent care clinics that can charge $120 for a co-pay, which not everyone can afford, Chameides said. The co-pay for the clinic is more in line with the cost at a doctor’s office, $10 to $20 with insurance, or $82 without.
By having a walk-in clinic inside a grocery store, patients will be able to get the care they need at that moment as well as get their prescriptions filled at the pharmacy in the store, Marks said.
“The clinic notes that are generated here will be sent to [the patients] primary care physician,” Marks said, using the Electronic Medical Records system. If a patient doesn’t have a primary care physician, he said, the staff will encourage them to find one.
Having this type of facility in town represents a great step forward for the health care of residents, First Selectman Michael Tetreau said.
“I’m thrilled,” Tetreau said. “This does more to improve the quality of life in our town than I can think of any other single innovation.”
The clinic is located inside the Stop & Shop, between the bakery and pharmacy, on Kings Highway Cutoff. It is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.