Sutter Health and Rite Aid Bring In-store Clinics to Sacramento
Sutter Health is First Health Care System in California to Provide This Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. September 21, 2006 – Sutter Health and Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE, PSX:RAD) announced today an agreement to open Sutter Express Care medical clinics inside six Rite Aid stores in neighborhoods around the greater Sacramento area this year. The Sutter Health network is the first health system to open this type of service in California, according to a July 2006 report by the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF). Sutter Express Care is an in-store health center that will allow patients to receive specified wellness services and quality care from Certified Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants for common illnesses such as strep throat, ear aches, and the flu. Care at the center is open to everyone over 18 months of age regardless of where the patient currently receives physician or hospital care.
Health care is undergoing a massive industrywide transformation and retail-based medical clinics like Sutter Express Care are part of an emerging trend of new, consumer-directed products and services. In-store clinics are expanding rapidly in other states. As stated in the CHCF report, there are currently more than 150 in-store clinics nationwide with thousands more planned in the next few years. Despite their popularity elsewhere, these clinics are new to California and the Sacramento area.
“Consumer expectations of health care are changing. Patients are demanding simpler and more convenient ways to care for routine health conditions,” said Thomas Atkins, M.D., medical director of Sutter Express Care. “Sutter Health is committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations, and in working with Rite Aid, we’re bringing patients one more option that allows them to access the highest levels of quality health care in a convenient and affordable way.”
“This relationship with Sutter allows us to offer easy access to high-quality, affordable health care services with the medication counseling and care already provided by our pharmacists. It’s a great combination and clearly supports Rite Aid’s focus on health and wellness,” said Mark de Bruin, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “We especially like that Sutter Health has the same commitment that our pharmacists have – to work collaboratively with physicians and in the best interest of the patient.”
Sutter Express Care clinics will be open seven days a week with extended hours on weekdays. With physician oversight and following physician-developed clinical protocols, the clinics will be staffed by either a Certified Nurse Practitioner or a Physician’s Assistant, who has advanced training to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services and prescribe medications. Patients who need additional services can access, through referral, the expansive Sutter Health network of physicians, hospitals and other health care service providers.
The clinics will offer a variety of specific health care services that typically can be delivered in 20 minutes at an average cost of $59 per visit. These include diagnosis and treatment for many common illnesses such as bronchitis, sinus infections and allergies. Additionally, Sutter Express Care clinics will offer a number of health and wellness screenings and vaccines. Sutter Health is actively working with health plans to make Sutter Express Care a contracted provider.
“Sutter Express Care clinics will give busy consumers across Sacramento one more option when they seek care for a specific group of conditions that can be appropriately treated in this type of clinic environment,” said Dr. Atkins.
Unlike most in-store health clinics, Sutter Express Care facilities will be linked to a larger, locally-based health care network – the Sutter Health network, which has a long history of providing quality care for the community. That means Sutter Express Care medical clinics will be held to the same rigorous standards of all Sutter Health affiliates, so patients can be assured they will receive the high-quality care they expect from the Sutter Health system.
Additionally, Sutter Express Care clinics will be outfitted with the latest advanced technology for patient care and safety, including electronic health records. Sutter Health patients can be assured their physicians will always be informed of their medical history because a patient’s health history will be confidentially updated at each visit.
Sutter Express Care clinics could also relieve pressure on California’s overcrowded emergency rooms, according to Dr. Atkins. In one recent year, there were about 10 million ER visits in California, according to a report by the California Medical Association. Of those, 35 percent were not urgent and just 13 percent were considered critical.
“Unfortunately, ERs have become the back-up for patients who need immediate care but are not experiencing an emergency,” said Dr. Atkins. “Sutter Express Care will provide patients across Sacramento easy access to appropriate care while also helping to alleviate some of the burden placed on our state’s emergency departments.”
Six Sutter Express Care locations are expected to open this year in Rite Aid stores in Sacramento, Elk Grove, Roseville, Folsom and Rancho Cordova.
About Rite Aid Corporation
Rite Aid Corporation is one of the nation’s leading drugstore chains with annual revenues of $17.3 billion and approximately 3,320 stores in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Information about Rite Aid, including corporate background and press releases, is available through the company's website at www.riteaid.com.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements include our high level of indebtedness, our ability to make interest and principal payments on our debt and satisfy the other covenants contained in our senior secured credit facility and other debt agreements, our ability to improve the operating performance of our existing stores in accordance with our long term strategy, our ability to hire and retain pharmacists and other store personnel, the efforts of private and public third-party payors to reduce prescription drug reimbursements and encourage mail order, competitive pricing pressures, continued consolidation of the drugstore industry, changes in state or federal legislation or regulations, the outcome of lawsuits and governmental investigations, general economic conditions and inflation, interest rate movements and access to capital. Consequently, all of the forward-looking statements made in this press release are qualified by these and other factors, risks and uncertainties. Readers are also directed to consider other risks and uncertainties discussed in documents filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements can be identified through the use of words such as "may", "will", "intend", "plan", "project", "expect", "anticipate", "could", "should", "would", "believe", "estimate", "contemplate", and "possible".