Walgreen expands clinics into chronic illness

Walgreen Co. has stretched the reach of its drugstore clinics beyond treating ankle sprains and sinus infections to handling chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure.

The company, based in Deerfield, Ill., said Thursday that most of its roughly 370 in-store Take Care Clinics now will diagnose, treat and monitor patients with some chronic conditions that are typically handled by doctors.

Walgreens’ website indicates the only Take Care clinics in Louisiana are in New Orleans, Marrero, Kenner, Mandeville and Slidell.

Drugstore clinics, which are run by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, have grown popular in recent years as a convenient and less expensive way to treat relatively minor illnesses when a patient doesn’t have a doctor or if their physician isn’t available. But the clinics have been broadening their scope of care: Walgreen’s decision follows a move by competitor CVS Caremark Corp. a few years ago to start monitoring chronic conditions at most of its 640 MinuteClinics.