Have you ever gotten sick while traveling? Not ’emergency room sick’, but just ‘I could use a doctor’ sick? It usually happens to most of us at one time or another. But this here is the story of how my experience changed my impression and loyalty to a brand forever.
On my recent vacation, I took my very first cruise. Five wonderful days and four glorious nights in the Florida Keys and Mexico. Well make that three glorious nights, because sometime during the last day or so of my trip I started to get a sore throat. I had been fighting a what I thought was a cold before I left on vacation with over the counter cold and sinus products. Honestly I thought that I had my ailments whipped until they doubled back with a vengeance. And wouldn’t you know it, I could not find any meds on board the ship. Thus I endured the throbbing pain in my throat for about 24 hours.
There were a couple more days left on my vacation, so once we docked I checked into my hotel and made a b-line for the convenience store across the street. There was not much of a selection, but I grabbed the cold and sinus pills they had and a big bottle of throat spray. Over the next couple of hours my situation deteriorated rapidly. I decided to call and make an appointment with my primary care doctor for Monday (this being Friday). All the time I was wondering how I could possibly endure a plane ride back home and wait out the weekend.
I mentioned my concerns to the office nurse, telling her that I was on travel and I might end up in the emergency room if things got any worse. She promptly stated “You won’t need to do that, go just to a mini clinic”. I was totally miffed. What the heck was a mini clinic? She went on to explain that some pharmacy franchises like Walgreens and CVS have clinics where they treat minor illnesses. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Walgreens is just about my favorite store on the planet. As often as I go in there, I have paid no attention to the little clinic sign.
I promptly jumped on Android phone and searched for a Walgreen’s Take Care Clinic near me. I found one and called for an appointment. After being informed that it was first-come, first-served; I jumped right into a cab and headed over. A friendly nurse practitioner saw me waiting and instructed me to sign in. I stepped up to the computer and I was registered in about 30 seconds, with no one ahead of me and I was called immediately.
While I was a bit nervous about being in a strange town, I was comfortable with the Walgreens brand so it didn’t take long for me to loosen up. I was seen by Albertina De La Osa, ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) who was by far one of the most patient and caring medical professionals that I have encountered. She listened intently to all my concerns, examined me and then pondered a diagnosis. When she asked how I would pay for the visit, I tensed again. You see I happen to be one of those thousands of folks without health care insurance. Albertina quietly stepped over to the computer and began typing. Then she turned to me and said “I think you have Strep Throat. But that test will cost you an extra $17. So I’m going to save you some money and prescribe something that will cover you either way”. While $17 may not seem like much, it was the cost of my taxi ride to the store. But most importantly it was Albertina’s empathy that moved me. She was determined to do what she could to make my visit less painful.
Once she wrote all the prescriptions and thoroughly explained my diagnosis and treatment, she processed my $75 payment. I thought ‘Whoa, that’s it. It cost me 2k to go to the emergency room a few months back”. Of course, that fee not include the cost of the prescriptions, so all together, I spent about $150 total. Ok, here is the final kicker. Once I was done in the office, Albertina walked my prescriptions over to the pharmacy and asked me to follow her. She went and pulled the rest of my meds off the shelf, substituting the cheaper but just as effective Walgreen brand when possible. She then handed me her business card and instructed me to call her back if I needed anything. She told me not to worry, when I get back home I can check in with the clinic near me because all their computer systems were connected and they could see her notes. Relief washed over me at the thought of NOT having to explain things over and over again.
One of our major concerns was how I would fair on the flight back to Atlanta. I followed the Albertina’s pre-flight instructions to the letter and things went off without a hitch. Back home on Monday and feeling a bit better I got a voice message from a nurse in Albertina’s office, checking on my progress. I didn’t bother to call her back since by then I had lost my voice. Imagine my surprise when she called again Tuesday. We had a conversation and she verified that I was followed the prescribed course of action and offered a few more tips to assist in my healing process.
Well after such great service I decided to see how many other folks had a similar experience. So, I Googled Albertina and found that she had been honored as a 2009 Unsung Hero by CARE (Clinician Awards for Retail Excellence). This honor speaks volumes to the quality of personnel that is hired by Take Care Health, a wholly owned Walgreens subsidiary. I can honestly say that I highly recommend Walgreen’s Take Care Clinic.
Note: Jai Stone was visited the Walgreens Take Care Clinic at 4895 East Palm Avenue, Hialeah, FL, 33012
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