Sunday, October 11, 2009

CVS, my savior(?)

I'll be visiting a CVS "minute clinic" tomorrow to see what can be done about my cough and rattling bronchi. There's such a clinic just up the street, close to where my brother David lives. It's open until 5:30PM on Sundays; I'll hit it while Mom and Dad are over in Lusby, Maryland. Yes, they're going on a trip. I had hoped to have a Saturday outing with my buddy Mike, but we had to cancel given my sickness. The man's got a family to think about.

For my foreign readers: CVS is essentially an all-purpose "drug store," i.e., a mini-store with a pharmacy. You can buy snacks and various cheap household and personal items there, as well as pick up over-the-counter meds and prescriptions. Some CVS stores include a miniature clinic-- the aforementioned "minute clinic"-- where a patient can fill out a touch-screen medical history and be seen by a licensed practical nurse (LPN*) who has the authority to prescribe meds if need be, at least for minor complaints.

I didn't even know that CVS minute clinics existed until David mentioned the clinic close to his domicile. I also learned, thanks to Mike, that people refer to small urgent care clinics as "doc in a box," a term I'd never heard before. It conjures up a demeaning mental image that doesn't bode well for the future of American health care. I don't know whether the CVS minute clinic qualifies as a "doc in a box" if it's staffed by an LPN, but there we are.** Come to think of it, I also wonder whether "minute," in this context, means "tiny" (my newt!) or "done in 60 seconds" (minnit). We'll soon know.

*If you come from one of those silly countries that spell "color" with a superfluous "u," then you might know this type of nurse as an RPN, EN, or SEN. See here.

**According to the patient comments I linked to, the minute clinic might also be staffed by a doctor. "Doc in a box," indeed. The term somehow reminds me of the science fiction world of Larry Niven, in which space travelers have "autodocs" for extended journeys. You climb inside the autodoc box, which comes alive with robotic instrumentation, taking your vitals, fixing your ills, etc. People end up living centuries because of these things.


1 comment:

Charles said...

I had no idea that CVS had these clinics. I know I've never seen one before. Are they relatively new (say, in the last fifteen years)?