28 July 2006, 10:15 AM EST....

PFLI has learned that the SSM Health Care system, known as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, has arranged for a collaboration with Walgreens Pharmacies, with SSM doctors overseeing clinics based in Walgreens.

Apparently SSM is a catholic affiliated organization. Their web page is at http://www.ssmhc.com/internet/home/ssmcorp.nsf/Documents/about+us. Walgreens, of course, has gained an unsavory reputation for having fired numerous pro-life pharmacists for refusing to dispense drugs which often operate to end human life early in development. Various lawsuits against Walgreens and Gov "Slobodan" Blagojevich are ongoing.

Some pro-life pharmacists, when contacted by PFLI, speculated these same SSM-supervised clinics may end up prescribing or referring women for the abortifacient so-called "morning after pill" to be dispensed the the very same pharmacies which were cleared of pro-life pharmacists in the last 15 months by Walgreens under the diktat of Blagojevich.

Said PFLI president, Karen Brauer, MS, RPh, "It is astonishing that a Catholic health organization would partner with such a company."


SSM doctors will oversee clinics in Walgreens

By Mary Jo Feldstein ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 07/07/2006

Doctors from SSM Health Care-St. Louis will oversee the nurse practitioners staffing health clinics inside area Walgreen Co. stores.

The agreement could give credibility to the clinics, which some physicians have been skeptical of, as well as provide a stream of new patients to SSM doctors.

"We believe we can best serve our physicians and, most importantly, our patients by being at the forefront of this concept and by taking an active role in shaping it," said Ronald J. Levy, chief executive of SSM Health Care-St. Louis.

Take Care Health Systems, of Conshohocken, Pa., will open nine health clinics in St. Louis-area Walgreen stores this summer. They are believed to be among the first such clinics in the St. Louis area.

The clinics will serve patients with common ailments such as colds, flus and sore throats. Take Care has yet to announce specific opening dates or locations. It hopes to eventually open clinics in 15 to 20 stores.

Nurse practitioners will see patients and be able to write most prescriptions at the clinics. But by law they must be supervised by physicians. Take Care will pay SSM doctors, who will be based off-site, an hourly wage to provide oversight through chart reviews and discussion.

Doctors from SSM Health Care-St. Louis will review about 10 percent of the clinics' charts. Typically the same physicians will supervise the same nurse practitioners.

Take Care said SSM physicians' efforts will complement the company's nurse practitioner peer review program and its other incident tracking and reporting programs.

Patients who need additional treatment and don't have a primary care doctor will be referred to SSM doctors. And SSM doctors will also refer patients to the clinics during busy times, after office hours or for minor problems.

"We really are firmly committed to a team-based approach with the medical community," said Peter Miller, chief executive of Take Care. "We really do view ourselves as a beginning not an end."

Some physicians have questioned whether the in-store clinics can provide the same quality as a primary care physician. One concern is that patients with recurring problems, such as a persistent sore throat, won't be seen by someone who knows their medical histories. Take Care has said its electronic medical records, diagnosing systems and other programs provide quick access to high-quality care at an affordable price.

The clinics will work with insurers, Medicare and Medicaid to offer services at the same price patients would pay for an office visit to a physician. For uninsured patients, fees will range between $48 and $68.

Some SSM physicians were skeptical at first, but others have been supportive of the partnership, Levy said.

"I think anytime something new unfolds in a market there is some healthy skepticism, but there's also a keen understanding that this is responding to changes in health care and the delivery of health care," Levy said. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/A44F7095CB7E96D3862571A4000EB9C7?OpenDocument