Features
Medicine by the minute
CVS clinics have performed DOT exams for a year, leveraging their expanded hours and locations

By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

It’s a rainy Monday morning here in suburban Kansas City, and the song “Just the Two of Us” plays at a volume appropriate for retail customers.

Inside the CVS off of Missouri Highway 7 in Blue Springs, MO, a small but steady stream of patients make their way through the company’s MinuteClinic – at an average of 20 minutes per visit.

There are no trucks parked outside this CVS this morning, but a growing number of patients treated at the MinuteClinics are professional truck drivers. For the past 14 months, CVS has been performing DOT physical exams.

Today, I will meet MinuteClinic physicians to learn more about how they perform DOT physicals – and undergo a blood pressure check.

Why?

The retail chain of drug stores is only part of a larger trend as consumers have increasingly valued walk-in appointments and the long office hours available in the clinics, said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director with the Convenient Care Association. CCA is a five-year-old trade association of clinics and healthcare systems based in retail locations.

“They’ve made it very hard to get basic health care services in this country,” Hansen-Turton told Land Line Magazine. “For people that are busy working or going to school, it’s hard to fit health care into your schedule. With these clinics, we’ve done that.”

About 1,200 such clinics exist in the U.S. now, and the retail-based facilities have begun accepting a majority of insurance plans.

Few categories of workers face schedules as demanding as truck drivers, Hansen-Turton said, making health clinics a natural fit for professional drivers.

“This is sort of a no-brainer for us,” she said. “Given their schedules and how they work, drivers really don’t have access to traditional home care as we know it in this country. And we happen to be the lowest cost private sector health care provider. … We’re not there to be an ongoing medical home, but we can certainly provide access to health care to truckers.”

The clinics provide health care, and the always-important DOT physical exam.

While most MinuteClinic appointments run 20 minutes, a DOT exam is closer to 30 minutes.

Standard exams are included, as well as eye screening, tests for color blindness and a forced-whisper hearing check.

CVS MinuteClinics are open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during weekdays, as well as 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. While the Blue Springs location has ample parking for trucks, CVS recognizes that many of its locations do not have truck parking. To solve the problem, CVS suggests drivers find locations they’re considering visiting and call ahead. Truck loading bays may be available for parking.

Because the clinics are a national chain, patient histories and health records are stored electronically and can be transferred to other clinics.

Drivers with large neck sizes and with snoring problems may be asked additional questions and, if necessary, could be referred to a primary care physician for further examination.

Sally Harris, the advanced practice registered nurse I saw, said that blood pressure is the number one reason that drivers are required to return for a return DOT physical in three, six or 12 months, rather than the full two years allowed by FMCSA.

My blood pressure?

That morning it was a bit borderline, but good enough to qualify for two years of medical certification. LL