Start-up closes 23 Wal-Mart retail clinics

Heavily in debt and unable to pay its medical staff or vendors, start-up retail clinic operator CheckUps has closed down 23 clinics operating in Wal-Marts. The clinics were based in Florida and three other southern states. CheckUps, based in New York, stopped paying some of its nurse practitioners in December, according to reports published in The New York Times. It also owes about $108,000 to Medtracker Personnel, a Louisiana employment agency which provided nurses to some of the clinics. It seems CheckUps may just have expanded too fast; it went from acquiring three clinics in Florida to adding 20 more in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi Wal-Marts within just one year. Given that it costs $300,000 to $600,000 per clinic over a two-year period just to break even, it takes a lot of capital to make an expansion of that size work.

Given that only 80 clinics are operating in Wal-Marts at present--all run by outside firms--losing 23 of them is a significant event. Still, it's unlikely to slow Wal-Mart' retail clinic strategy down. Wal-Mart executives said they still plan to lease space to several hundred clinics over the next two years, and to offer space to as many as 2,000 clinics by 2014. Wal-Mart CEO said he's particularly interested in more hospital partners to add to the mix. The retailer has already partnered with Wisconsin's Aurora Health Care system and the North Broward Hospital District on Florida's southeastern coast.

To learn more about Wal-Mart and CheckUps:
- read this piece in The New York Times
read this Wall Street Journal item

PLUS: Though CheckUps may be closing clinics in Florida, the retail clinic industry is still expanding there. In South Florida, for example, Walgreens and CVS are opening clinics at a rapid rate. Article

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