A couple of months ago, Ricky Flatz saw a YouTube video about a clinic offering drive-through flu shots in Kentucky.
As a nurse at HealthPartners, his first reaction was: "We could do this."
Now, thanks to Flatz, they are. At least as an experiment.
HealthPartners is setting up three large tents on Friday in a parking lot in St. Louis Park, where patients will be able to get their flu shots without leaving their vehicles.
The drive-through clinic will be open on just two Saturdays, Oct. 6 and Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., by the HealthPartners clinic in the West End shopping center near Interstate 394 and Hwy. 100.
"I think what appealed to me about it was it was a novel idea," said Flatz, who oversees HealthPartners' urgent care centers. "The world's changing, and we recognize that people are busier and busier. They want convenience."
And what could be more convenient than rolling up your sleeve while you roll down your driver's seat window?
Logistically, Flatz said, they had to figure out ways to streamline the process. "We'll be out there with iPads," he said, registering patients electronically. To speed things up, they'll take digital photos of customers' driver's licenses, rather than entering names and addresses by hand. They'll also use the iPads to swipe credit cards to cover the $30 fee (though cash, checks and insurance are also welcome).
"Our goal would be to have you in and out within 15 minutes," Flatz said.
Of course, nurses will still ask some questions about medical history, for safety reasons, and a doctor will be on hand just in case. When he put out the call for staffers, Flatz said, he was overwhelmed with volunteers. "It was awesome," he said.
Flatz admits he has no idea how many patients will show up; that's why they're only trying it out on two Saturdays. But he's optimistic. "I think it is going to catch on," he said. "I think people are really going to enjoy this."