Take Care Clinics, located inside Walgreens drugstores, are offering free medical care to families of people who lost jobs and have no health coverage.
"It's hard to predict how many people we'll be treating, but it could be in the millions," said Lauren Nesler, a spokeswoman for the chain of 342 clinics staffed by nurse practitioners who have treated 1.25 million patients since 2005.
There are some catches. Patients have to have lost their jobs after March 30. If patients have never been treated by Take Care before, they must pay for the first visit. Prescriptions are not part of the deal.
Otherwise Take Care, which treats most minor ailments, is waiving $59 to $80 fees depending on the type of service through the rest of 2009.
Quest Diagnostics also won't charge for tests Take Care commonly uses to diagnose strep throat and bladder infections.
"We cannot stand idly as individuals are forced by the hardships of the economy to choose between basic necessities such as health care, housing and food," said Gregory Wasson, Walgreen's president.
Free care is being offered to spouses, same-sex domestic partners and children if they have no other health coverage.
Visits are limited to between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.
Mark Albright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8252.