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Diagnosis: Fast and affordable; Health care companies try stripped-

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The,  Dec 29, 2005  by GUY BOULTON

Aurora Health Care is betting that a relatively new way of providing health care will find a market in southeastern Wisconsin.

The state's largest health care system is moving quickly to establish a network of clinics, under the name Aurora Quick Care, designed to offer fast, convenient, low-cost care for a limited number of illnesses.

Aurora, which opened its first Quick Care clinic in March 2004, recently opened four more. It now runs 11 of the clinics, and it plans to open more in coming months.

The Aurora Quick Care clinics are in locations such as Southridge Mall and Brookfield Square. Two are in Piggly Wiggly supermarkets. One was recently opened in the Petro Travel Plaza at I-94 and U.S. Highway 20 in Racine County.

They are staffed only by nurse practitioners and provide basic care, from treating common illnesses such as sore throats and ear infections, to providing flu shots and sports physicals.

That falls well within the scope of duties of nurse practitioners registered nurses with master's degrees who are trained to diagnose common diseases and provide basic care. Nurse practitioners work under the supervision of doctors. In most states, including Wisconsin, they can write prescriptions. The Aurora Quick Care clinics are modeled after similar clinics popping up in stores nationwide.

MinuteClinic, a privately held company in Minneapolis founded in 2000, now has more than 60 clinics throughout the country in Target, CVS and other stores. Other companies also are entering the business. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is renting space in its stores to test the concept.