Skip to main content

Meijer in-store clinic partners come down with bad case of OOB


GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. —Meijer has maintained a strong focus on community through its 75-year history, and part of its commitment has been expressed in health-related initiatives ranging from pharmacy operations—found in all of its units—to the recent development of a private label organics line. Yet, through no fault of its own, Meijer recently found that its locations were losing their retail clinic services.

Now, 38 of 39 retail clinics operating out of Meijer stores are closed, as three of the four companies that licensed space to provide those services, including Physicians Organization of Western Michigan, Early Solutions and Medical Mart, have either gone out of business or have withdrawn from that part of the health care market. Meijer, itself, has never operated any of the retail clinics that functioned on its premises.

Ken Richmond, who was chief medical officer of Medical Mart, recently told Retailing Today’s sister publication Drug Store News that the venture capitalists backing its business pulled out for reasons that were left unclear. The Web site for Early Solutions has been shut down and attempts to reach the company by phone were unsuccessful. POWM did not return phone calls asking for comment.

Only one Meijer unit, in Normal, Ill., still has a retail clinic operating on its premises, run by Family Quick Care. A Meijer source said it seems to be doing well.

Meijer isn’t the first retailer to find that a clinic operator associated with its stores was in trouble. Wal-Mart had a similar situation arise, but facilitated the transfer of the clinic from the operator that was leaving the business to another partner.

Despite its own difficulties, Meijer’s commitment to helping customers with their health care needs remains solid. In the year after announcing a program to provide customers with free antibiotics, which it began dispensing in October 2006, the retailer filled more than 1 million antibiotic prescriptions gratis. In announcing the milestone, co-chairman Hank Meijer asserted, “The Meijer free antibiotic program has been hugely successful and we are so proud this program has made such a positive impact on our customers.”

Focusing on drugs frequently prescribed for children, the free antibiotic program—which covers amoxicillin, cephalexin, SMZ-TMP, ciprofloxacin, penicillin VK, ampicillin and erythromycin—includes at least one from each of the major antibiotic classifications and more than 70% of generic, pediatric antibiotic prescriptions filled by the retailer. “Pharmacy has always been a good destination for us,” said spokesman Frank Guglielmi, and so the antibiotics program helps Meijer address a critical need among the families using its stores.

To bolster its wellness standing, Meijer lately has instituted a whole health approach to its overall business, expanding organic foods, for example, in an effort that included its private label organic launch. In February, Meijer announced that its traditional own-brand milk would be produced free of the synthetic growth hormone rBST. Meijer is offering hormone-free in its standard milk, even though Meijer Organics Milk, per USDA standards, already exists as a hormone-free choice.

On its Web site, Meijer is linking food and pharmacy in a section dubbed ‘Healthy Living,’ and it is looking to provide more couplings in stores as well. Among the topics Meijer is helping its shoppers explore online is diabetes prevention and how to read food labels to promote heart health.

Meijer thus demonstrates that it doesn’t want to leave its customers’ health to chance, although it may hope to get luckier with any future clinic partners.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds