By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – How we receive medical care is being impacted by COVID-19. The scramble to get vaccinations has opened the eyes of the public to alternative locations and pathways to initial health care.

“We are in the era of convenience in healthcare,” said Dr. Enieda Roldan, the Chief Executive Officer for FIU Health Care Network. “The population has become accustomed to shopping for clothes, shopping malls, or even for food at Publix, being able to have a mini-clinic inside the premises.”

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Before the pandemic, big drug store chains like CVS and Walgreens made moves to enhance services in their pharmacies. Some are co-locating health clinics and pharmacies next to each other, Walmart has clinics in their stores.

“We will enhance our ability of care for individuals and populations that cannot access a doctor,” said Dr. Roldan.

The pharmacy operators recognized many patients who visit them don’t have primary care providers. Their idea was to cater to everyday needs with a special focus on chronic disease management, offering services such as blood draws, sleep apnea assessments, blood pressure checks, and screening for more serious issues.

“Who would have thought Walmart would have a chief medical officer,” said Dr. Roldan. “Never.”

When the pandemic rolled and vaccines were created to combat COVID-19, it created the opportunity to get a vaccination at a local pharmacy and introduce more people to basic health care services there. Some of those pharmacies even have their own doctors.

“I believe that as far as the industry, to be stagnant and stay within the box is not the way to go. It’s not the best has way we can provide services to our stakeholders,” said Dr. Roldan.

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Dealing with the pandemic has produced another pivot in medical care, telemedicine – talking to your doctor from home using services like Zoom or Skype.

“Look at telemedicine, it has completely boomed. Will it go away after covid? Absolutely not,” said Dr. Roldan.

As for future doctors, they might not work out of hospitals, or private practices, so much as they have in the past. Maybe they’ll find themselves at a CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart.

“I try to impress upon them that they would be practicing in a different environment,” said Dr. Roldan.

If you intend to make an appointment at a pharmacy instead of trying to get one from the state or county, click the following:

CVS and Walgreens are currently not offering COVID-19 vaccines to the general public in South Florida.

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All vaccine sites in Florida are posted on the Florida Department of Health’s website here.