By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — There may be a time soon when someone with a minor illness or injury can avoid the hospital emergency room and heads instead to their nearest drugstore for treatment.
That’s because the CVS pharmacy chain is seeking state approval to establish medical care clinics at six of its locations across New Hampshire, including one of its two stores in Salem.
While the clinics wouldn’t duplicate all of the care offered in emergency rooms or at the growing number of urgent care centers in the state, they would treat some of the minor cases those facilities regularly handle, according to Cynthia Carrier of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
These cases could include burns, wounds, abrasions, allergies, insect bites, sprains, some infections and numerous skins conditions. They do not include major injuries, such as fractures.
The clinics would also offer wellness counseling and physical exams, approximately a dozen vaccines and lab testing. They would also monitor diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol, according to the CVS proposal.
This is the first request in New Hampshire for medical clinics, said Carrier, who is with DHHS’ Office of Health Services Planning Review.
She said CVS contacted the state in June to ask whether Certificate of Need Board approval is needed for its MinuteClinics. WalMart and some pharmacies offer similar clinics in other states, including Massachusetts.
The Rhode Island-based chain has requested permission for clinics at its Salem location at 512 S. Broadway and at pharmacies in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Hampton and West Lebanon, according to spokesman Brent Burkhardt.
There is also a CVS at The Mall at Rockingham Park, but the proposal does not call for a clinic at that location.
While CVS might bypass the sometimes lengthy Certificate of Need process, Carrier said, state licensing approval is needed before the clinics can operate. They would have to be staffed by medical professionals, such as physicians and nurse practitioners.
“The expectation for these to open is the November-to-December time frame,” Burkhardt said. “There is a need for convenient, accessible, affordable health care throughout New Hampshire.”
There are 650 of these clinics at CVS stores in 25 states and Washington, D.C., he said. Approximately 150 are opening this year alone, Burkhardt said.
He said the services offered by the clinics would be less expensive than those offered by typical medical facilities.
Paul MacConnell, a manager at the South Broadway pharmacy, said he was not authorized to comment on plans for the clinic. But he did say the clinic would be a welcome addition.
“I’m excited, and I know the customers are, too,” he said.