Frequently Asked Questions - Palomar Health expresscare Clinics

What is Palomar Health expresscare?
Retail health clinics operated by Palomar Health located within select Albertsons/Sav-on Pharmacy stores in San Diego County.

Who operates Palomar Health expresscare?
Palomar Health

What are the expresscare operating hours?
Palomar Health expresscare operates Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. with required lunch breaks from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. each weekday and 1:30-2:00 p.m. on the weekends.

Do I need to make an appointment?
No, appointments are not accepted.  All visits are provided on a first-come, first-serve walk-in basis.

What is a retail clinic?
Convenient health clinics located within retail confinements such as grocery stores, drug stores or malls. Retail clinics are typically staffed by Nurse Practitioners (NPs) or Physician Assistants (PAs) (and in some instances physicians) who diagnose and treat common conditions and provide preventative services in collaboration with local physicians

What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?
An NP is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. NPs provide a broad range of health care services. They provide some of the same care provided by physicians, may serve as a patient’s regular healthcare provider in other settings and they maintain close working relationships with physicians.

Nurse Practitioners provide a wide variety of health services, from taking health histories to performing physical examinations and diagnosing/treating common health problems. They can also order appropriate laboratory tests and prescribe any required medications. In addition to health care services, NPs conduct research and are often active in patient advocacy activities.

Can a Nurse Practitioner prescribe medications?
Yes, NPs can prescribe medications as needed, including the Palomar Health expresscare NPs.

Who reviews the medical records and ensures that quality care is being rendered?
The designated Medical Director at each expresscare location regularly reviews patient records to provide constructive feedback, visit the health centers regularly and also participate in monthly meetings with the expresscare clinicians to ensure that the highest quality of care is being rendered.

Will my insurance cover the prescription cost?
Please check your specific health plan benefits and the pharmacy to ensure that your insurance will cover your prescription. The cost of service rendered by the NPs does not include the cost for your prescription.

Can Palomar Health expresscare practitioners refill medications prescribed by other clinicians?
No, Palomar Health expresscare only provides medications for routine illnesses that require immediate attention, not chronic illnesses.

How long do I have to wait?
Patients are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis and most visits take about 20 minutes. Pagers are also provided for your convenience so you may shop, complete your banking needs or visit the snack area until the NP is ready to see you.

Who does Palomar Health expresscare serve?
Palomar Health expresscare serves everyone regardless of where you receive regular medical treatment or if you are uninsured. Care is available for adults and children two years of age and older.

How much does it cost?
Most services are an affordable flat fee of $72.00, although some vaccinations and health screening services are more or less than the standard fee. Please note that the costs of common illnesses, screenings and/or physical examinations do not include the cost of vaccines which are priced separately. The expresscare clinician will provide you additional information regarding the cost of your visit as necessary. 

Can I use my insurance coverage at Palomar Health expresscare?
If your insurance carrier is contracted with Palomar Health expresscare and you have met your annual deductible (if applicable) we will bill them less your co-payment or co-insurance, although you will ultimately be responsible for any costs not covered by your insurance carrier. Palomar Health expresscare continues to work with many health plans to include Palomar Health expresscare in their networks.  If your health plan is not currently in network with expresscare please call your Member Services department. 

What happens if I cannot be treated at Palomar Health expresscare?
Based on predefined clinical protocols developed by the medical director, you will be referred to a more appropriate level of care such as your regular physician, urgent care or the emergency department.

Will I receive a copy of my medical record?
Yes, upon your request you will be provided with a patient visit summary report which includes the visit diagnosis, directions for follow-up care (if necessary) and any medication information. Given your approval, a copy may also be provided to your primary care physician.

Will my primary care physician (PCP) be notified of my visit?
Yes, given your consent your PCP will be notified of your visit. Ensuring continuity of care is one of Palomar Health expresscare’s primary goals and your PCP is a key member of the Palomar Health expresscare team. We understand and respect the importance of your relationship with your PCP and for this reason, upon checking in at Palomar Health expresscare you will be asked to sign a Consent form detailing who your PCP is and permitting Palomar Health expresscare to release a record of your visit to your PCP.

Palomar Health expresscare will make its best efforts to provide results of your tests or treatment soon after your visit to make sure that your care is effectively coordinated, but ultimately you should inform your PCP of your visit. You will be encouraged to see your PCP for follow-up care if necessary, or for chronic conditions, which Palomar Health expresscare is not designed to treat.

What if I don’t have a PCP?
You do not need to have a regular PCP to receive medical attention at Palomar Health expresscare. If you don’t have a PCP, the expresscare NP can provide you with a list of local physicians currently accepting new patients as well as information for enrolling in state and government health insurance programs. Additionally, you may also visit www.palomarhealth.org to search for physicians accepting new patients.

Can I receive treatment for chronic health conditions? No, Palomar Health expresscare is designed to address routine health needs that require immediate attention. Screening services are provided for several chronic health conditions, but you will ultimately be referred to your physician or the most appropriate health center for regular treatment. 

What should I do if I have a more severe illness or injury?
You should call your physician, call 911 or travel to the nearest emergency department

What if I need lab or X-ray work?
You should visit the nearest urgent care or emergency department where care may be rendered more appropriately.

Who provides care at Palomar Health expresscare?
Certified Family Nurse Practitioners provide care at Palomar Health expresscare with medical supervision and quality assurance provided by board certified Family Practice physicians affiliated with Palomar Health.

What type of training do Nurse Practitioners receive?
All NPs have completed the education and training necessary to be a Registered Nurse (RN), with most having completed the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN). Once RN status is attained, candidates complete a state-approved advanced training program in which they usually specialize in a field such as family practice, internal medicine or women’s health. NPs are also required to complete specific continuing education requirements.

In which states are NPs eligible to practice?
NPs are authorized to practice in all states and have prescriptive privileges, of varying degrees, in 49 states (including California). 

What type of patients can a NP evaluate?
Nurse Practitioners are qualified to see patients of all ages in various settings, but Palomar Health expresscare NPs meet the needs of patients two years and older. The core philosophy of the field is individualized care. Nurse Practitioners focus on patients' conditions as well as the effects of illness on the lives of the patients and their families. NPs make prevention, wellness, and patient education priorities. This can mean fewer prescriptions and less expensive treatments. Informing patients about their health care and encouraging them to participate in decisions are central to the care provided by NPs. In addition to health care services, NPs conduct research and are often active in patient advocacy activities.

How is a NP different from a physician?
Physicians tend to handle more serious medical conditions and focus on the diagnoses of specific problems. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, physicians have completed four years of medical school as well as residency and fellowship training depending upon their specialty.

How is an NP different from a Physician Assistant (PA)?
PAs are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. A PA typically has a bachelor’s degree and four years of healthcare experience then completes a 26-month intensive, accredited education program. A PA’s education is solely competency-based (mastery of certain clinical skills taught in their PA program). Upon graduation, PAs take a national certification examination.  Graduation from an accredited PA program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

On the other hand, almost all NPs are master’s degree prepared nurses who have completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. Nurse Practitioners are distinctly different from Physician's Assistants in clinical experience, educational preparation, and autonomy. Nurse Practitioners have years of clinical experience in addition to advanced education at the Master's level or above. NPs may work independently or in collaboration with a physician and must have an RN license before being accepted into an NP educational program.

Who is responsible for regulating the practice of NPs? The State Board of Nursing within each state maintains its own licensing and certification criteria. Additionally, NPs may have to fulfill additional requirements such as certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or a specialty nursing organizations.

Where do NPs usually practice?
Community clinics and health centers, health departments, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), home health care agencies, hospitals and hospital clinics, hospice centers, nurse practitioner offices, nursing homes, nursing schools, physician offices, private offices, public health departments, retail clinics, school/college clinics, and Veterans Administration facilities.

When did NPs first begin practicing in the medical industry?
Based largely on predictions of a physician shortage of which the Vietnam War was a primary contributor and based on the need for primary care in rural areas, the first NP program was established at the University of Colorado.

What are the best numbers to call should I have additional questions?
The number for Palomar Health expresscare Health Clinics is 888-738-2452.

Do you have questions about Palomar Health expresscare Health Clinics in North San Diego County? Visit Our Services or Contact Us for more information.