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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
December 14, 2005
Doctor in the House: Just Past the Frozen Foods

Produce, aisle four. Cereal, aisle six. Dairy, aisle nine.


Ear exams?


Oh, that’s at the front of the store, by that mechanical horse that supposedly runs on a penny but never works.


Major retailers have recently established a curious trend of placing full-service health clinics right in their stores. CVS, Target and Meijer have all jumped on the gurney.


Full-service to a point, understand. You can’t get brain surgery, at least not on a walk-in basis. But ear infections, burns, rashes, warts . . . no need to make a special trip to the clinic when you can pop in on a doctor while you’re waiting for the cashier to come back with your Marlboros (which we all know can take awhile).


These are serious clinics. Doctors. Nurses. Physician assistants. An old lady ordering you onto the scale even though you came in for an ingrown toenail. They’re all there, open seven days a week and ready to attend to any health need you may have, unless it’s mental health, which may be your most likely affliction when shopping at a major retailer.


Would you go to a doctor whose office is next to the lottery ticket dispenser? Major retailers are betting that you will, what with their expected price per visit under $50 and the promise that in many cases you can pay now and bill your insurance later.


So now health care finance invades the major retail outlet. I would rather see it work the other way around, especially with the advent of the U-Scan aisles. Get your broken leg set, hop up on the scanner and drag your femur across. Ding! $5,999.95. You have insufficient funds in your checking account to cover this transaction. Oh well. Head over to the other U-Scan aisle, the one with the Blue Cross Blue Shield logo.


And no trying to sneak your Quaker Oats through there!


The birth of the clinic-while-you-shop is merely the latest step toward a brave new world in which, once you enter the store, you never need to leave. Ever.


Now, the major retailer can play host to the full range of human experiences. You can buy alcohol and cigarettes, along with a 64-ounce bag of Doritos. Gain 60 pounds, poison your liver and your lungs, then go see the doctor to get it all fixed up.


The doctor sends you over to the pharmacy in aisle 14 to get your medication, then instructs you to head over to aisle 2 where they sell the fresh fruits and vegetables. Meet your new diet. And don’t try sneaking over to the frozen apple pies. The doctor can see you!


No wonder they have that guy standing there shouting “Welcome!” to everyone who walks in. You’re going to be there awhile.


Hey, it’s always good to have a doctor in the house just in case you have a heart attack, break a leg or need to explain to your wife why you grabbed the wrong brand of peanut butter. But the more “services” we cram into these massive stores, the less we need the rest of the town.


You can already go grocery shopping, get your hair cut and pop in to the travel agent. Now the doctor too? Why the heck can’t I pull my car alongside the melons and fill up my tank? Where’s the pool?


Mrs. Krause has a taste for frozen steak fries. She also has a habit of forgetting to buy them, which prompts a lot of pre-dinner time runs to the store. It’s hard enough to run in and out of the grocery store. Now that it’s turning into the grocery store/health clinic/hair salon/airport/oil refinery, it may be time to just start buying the steak fries off e-Bay. It will be quicker.


Unless I also need an appendectomy. Then you’re talking one-stop shopping.

© 2005 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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