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Retail clinics take the wheel as healthcare vehicle

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The recent report by the National Center for Policy Analysis is yet one more indication of the important role that retail-based health clinics play in today’s overburdened healthcare system.

(THE NEWS: New report emphasizes importance of retail clinics, projects growth. For the full story, click here)

It is no secret that the physician shortage and soaring healthcare costs are hampering patients’ access to medical care and even prompting some to head to hospital emergency rooms — a costly and time-consuming alternative. In fact, of the 119 million visits to ERs in a given year, 55% are for non-emergencies.

Since emerging on the scene about 10 years ago, retail-based clinic operators have increasingly proven the important role they play in providing convenient, quality and low-cost health care, and the efforts are not going unnoticed by the medical community and third-party payers.

The estimates, according to consulting firm Deloitte, suggest that the number of clinics could reach 3,200 by 2014. That’s an impressive number but the story isn’t all about the numbers. Clinic operators have been working to drive clinic utilization and further augment — not replace — the medical community and that includes an expansion of services.

The bottom line is that retail-based clinics continue to gain acceptance and their role in today’s healthcare system continues to gain acknowledgement.

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Delhaize Group to close 15 Food Lion stores

BY Allison Cerra

BRUSSELS, Belgium International food retailer Delhaize Group announced the closure of 15 Food Lion stores as part of its restructuring plan.

Pierre-Oliver Beckers, Delhaize president and CEO, said the closings are part of the implentation of the company’s New Game Plan for 2010, which will intergrate the organization, increase flexibility and yield cost savings. The stores, Beckers said, which include 15 Food Lion locations and 1 Bloom store, were underperforming.

“The new U.S. restructuring plan… is a critical element of the recently announced New Game Plan which will fund key initiatives such as major price investments as well as our accelerated store opening and remodel programs,” he said. 

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Fresh & Easy opens three new stores in California

BY Allison Cerra

FRESNO, Calif. A regional supermarket chain announced the opening of four new stores.

Fresh & Easy said Thursday it is opening three stores is Fresno, Calif., which will revive the city’s downtown area. These openings are the first in decades, the company said. While one store opened Jan. 14, the other two will follow next month, specifically, Feb. 3 and Feb. 24.

“Fresh & Easy is excited to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Fresno because everyone deserves access to fresh, wholesome food at affordable prices,” said Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. “We are thrilled at the wonderful reception we have received from our new neighbors in this wonderful community.”

Fresh & Easy has also made it a priority to lessen its impact on the environment – on average, Fresh & Easy stores use 30% less energy than a typical supermarket and utilize technologies like solar tracking skylights, automatically dimming lights, and LED lighting. Fresh & Easy recycles or reuses all its shipping and display materials and uses environmentally-friendly trailers to transport food. The company is a pilot member of the LEED Volume Certification Program and has invested in a 500,000-sq.-ft. solar roof installation on its distribution center in Riverside, California.

Fresh & Easy operates stores in Souther California, Arizona and Nevada.

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