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Airport's AeroClinic penetrates the market

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In May of last year, the AeroClinic -- located on the third floor of the atrium at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport -- opened its doors to the public, after taking over operations of the R.L. Brown, Jr., Grady Medical Center.

While the center had a history of physically testing and treating the minor ailments of the airport's 56,000 employees, until recently, the clinic was virtually unknown to passengers coming through the airport. However, aggressive marketing campaigns over the last year have given the AeroClinic a higher public presence and increased the number of non-employees who utilize the clinic's services.

The 4,000-square-foot clinic now sees anywhere from 30-60 patients daily ranging from appointments to walk-ins.

"The penetration by travelers has increased," said Rosemary Kelly, chief marketing officer for the AeroClinic. "We've initiated some marketing outreach programs to broaden the scope of people using the clinic."

From last October to January of this year, AeroClinic hosted a flu vaccine drive in the atrium and all of the airport concourses. During that time, people traveling through the airport could get a flu shot on the way to their next destination.

Lately, the clinic has worked to have a larger presence with the major airlines. Articles on the clinic have been featured in "Delta-Sky Magazine" and "Go," AirTran Airway's in-flight magazine. Recently, AeroClinic made an agreement with AirTran to feature advertisements for the clinic in its boarding-pass ticket sleeves.

"We have also contacted the airport's ticket counter gate agents," said Kelly. "They are usually the first to see a person that is sick." She added that the airport's "Green Coats" -- customer service agents in green sport jackets, posted throughout the airport -- will often direct sick travelers to the clinic.

The clinic is equipped to handle anything but a major emergency, for which a patient would be stabilized and transported to the nearest hospital by paramedics.

People can make appointments for any number of medical examinations, such as prostate exams, cholesterol and blood-pressure checks, and X-rays. They can also receive outpatient service for common ailments, such as stomach aches, headaches, ear and throat infections, and the flu.

The clinic also has a selection of over-the-counter medications which travelers can purchase, ranging from Airborne, Advil and Dramamine, to hydrocortisone and PolyGrip denture cream.

"We try to anticipate anything, because people lose things or leave their luggage at home," said Kelly. "If you have a long layover and you don't have access to your bag, you can get what you need."

Kelly said, in the future, the clinic would like to speed up the process of signing in by eliminating paper altogether in registering patients. She hoped to eventually register patients using a kiosk in which patients could automatically register by using a credit or debit card, similar to how some airlines check in passengers.

"Being that we're on the third floor, a lot of people don't know we're up here," said executive assistant, Danna Yelton. "We've seen an increase in business and we're thrilled to death about that."