Walk-in clinic opens in Aberdeen Swanson’s

It will treat minor ailments and accepts some insurance plans

A walk-in medical clinic has opened next to the pharmacy inside Swanson’s Foods in Aberdeen, offering treatment for any and all minor ailments such as colds, the flu, or small lacerations. The idea, first proposed by Swanson’s owner Robert Jewett, was to offer locals a place that could treat common sickness without the high cost of an emergency room visit or a long wait to see primary care physicians.

“It’s a step down from urgent care, and hopefully we’ll take some of the load off of the ER, so the people who have true emergencies can get more timely care,” said nurse practitioner Judy Miller. “All the primary care providers are pretty booked up, and people can’t get in to see their primary care as quickly as they’d like to. But they’re really not sick enough to go to the emergency room, so that’s the niche we’re trying to fill here.”

Swanson’s billing manager Lee Ann Owlett, who has overseen the clinic’s creation, said she’s heard numerous complaints from people who had gotten minor bruises and scrapes, but couldn’t get fast treatment and could’ve used a walk-in clinic.

“When my son has asthma issues, we’ve taken him to the emergency room, and we’ve just sat there and sat there,” said Owlett. “The problem with the ER and the cost of insurances right now is that I spent a lot of money out of my pocket that I should not have had to pay. I think this will be more affordable for people than going to the ER for non-emergency issues.”

The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday, and offers basic appointments for a $50 charge, or for anyone covered by one of three health insurance plans who have partnered with the clinic. Currently, people with Apple Health, Primera LifeWise and Molina are the only ones covered by insurance, but Owlett said they will soon be adding coverage for other companies.

Currently, Miller is the only trained health care provider at the clinic, and works with one medical assistant and a receptionist, but she hopes that other medical personnel are brought on so she doesn’t have to work full time.

“Primary care had gotten to be an awful lot of work,” said Miller, who has been a nurse in the area for more than 40 years and decided to forgo retirement to work at the clinic. “It was consuming my life, and I liked to work, but not quite to that intensity. This is more relaxed.”

There are just two exam rooms at the clinic, small enough for one health provider to oversee.

In addition to basic sickness appointments, the clinic also offers sports physicals and Department of Transportation exams, but will refer those with more serious injuries like chest pain or broken bones to an emergency room.

The clinic has been pretty quiet since its opening Tuesday. But Miller said it’s helpful to avoid heavy traffic early on since they’re still working to get operations running smoothly. An official opening ceremony will be happening in January. Eventually, she said, the clinic would consider moving to full-week operations.