On a busy Rt. 6 in Bristol, on the former site of Frankies restaurant that used to sell hand-made burgers and potato skins, you can now see a doctor to treat a broken bone, get a vaccination or examine an ear infection.
Since February, the old restaurant building was raised and a new building was erected to house a new walk-in clinic, just a stone’s throw from a liquor store, pizza shop and yoga studios.
About three miles west, where a mattress store closed last year, a new walk-in clinic opened up, with seven exam rooms and a comfortable waiting room with free snacks. Across the street, you can find another walk-in clinic. That walk-in clinic is owned and operated by Bristol Hospital. It has been in that locations for over a decade.
Urgent care clinics are popping up in former video stores, restaurants, convenience stores, carwashes, day care centers and electronics shops at a dizzying rate of between 300 and 600 each year across the nation, to nearly 7,000 today, according to the Urgent Care Association of America, based in Naperville. Central Connecticut area numbers were not available.
Clinic operators position their stores to be near neighborhood restaurants or supermarkets, offering a quick visit for people who need treatment for a sudden injury or illness that is not serious enough for an emergency room visit but can’t wait for a trip to the family doctor. Many of the centers are open on weekends and evenings and also offer X-rays.
Shopping centers chase them as potential prime tenants, attracted by their stable finances, top-grade credit and ability to bring in a steady stream of customers who might also stop at a nearby restaurant or convenience store.
Part of the attraction is that the clinics don’t face the same kinds of competition that traditional retailers like independent bookstores and family-owned appliance stores faced from big-box stores and online retailers.
With patients paying for a greater percentage of their health care, and insurance companies pressuring medical providers to hold down prices, the big push is convenience and affordable treatments, the definition of a walk-in clinic.
In contrast to hospitals, which usually do not disclose treatment prices in advance, Many walk-in clinics provide a price list to patients.
National Examples: $25 for a flu shot, $109 for a hepatitis B vaccination, $69 for a physical ($39 for children). A doctor’s exam for an illness or injury costs $149. Stitches or multiple X-rays cost $249. Insurance companies generally cover care at the clinics.
There are now 8 medical offices designated as walk-in clinics in Bristol.