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March 29, 2019 10:30 PM, EDT

At the Truck Stop, the Doctor Will See You Now

The UrgentCare booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show The UrgentCare booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Forty-eight percent of truck drivers have a serious health condition, but when it comes to preventive care, many do not have the time to miss work or find a convenient time and place to get medical exams, an audience of drivers was told at the Mid-America Trucking Show on March 29.

“This is a challenging profession,” said Mitch Strobin, senior vice president of UrgentCare Travel, a chain of 13 clinics located at truck stops across the nation. “It’s very challenging to your health.”

While briefing the audience of about 50 truckers and trucking officials at MATS, Strobin went over some of the statistics.

Truck drivers are 50% more likely to develop diabetes than the general population, Strobin said. Other conditions likely to hit truck drivers are high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol, he said.

It was because of these problems that a group of investors founded UrgentCare Travel in 2013, partnering with Pilot Flying J to open its first clinic in Knoxville, Tenn. The company works with Pilot Flying J in locating clinics at the site of truck stops, but the chain is not co-owned by them, Strobin said.

One of the benefits Pilot Flying J offers is parking, a bigger headache for drivers going to a medical professional than for most citizens. The parking alone saves a driver between four and six hours, according to UrgentCare Travel’s website.

The company doubled in size in 2018, going from seven locations to 13. Strobin said the company plans to open another four in 2019.

The reason the company has had some success is because trucking firms see value in reducing sick days and turnover, Strobin said.

Mitch Strobin of UrgentCare Travel

Strobin by Jim Stinson/Transport Topics

Another reason is many truckers don’t have health insurance. Strobin said that the company will draw and test drivers’ blood the first time for free, using the results to establish a baseline for cholesterol, thyroid problems and more. Part of the reason for that is because experts at the Mayo and Cleveland clinics recommend seeing a medical professional once a month until a medical condition is brought under control, he said.

Another reason drivers and truck firms want to help manage drivers’ health is that unchecked conditions can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blindness, nerve damage and amputations, he told the audience.

The clinic company can also mail prescription drugs, or send them to a clinic in another state, to meet the truckers when they arrive. And once enrolled, the company offers no-cost flu shots to drivers, Strobin said.

Strobin urged the audience to take care of their bodies the same way and with the same zeal in which they maintain their rigs.

“Your body is your truck,” said Strobin.

The company has as many as 40 employees, many of them nurse practitioners or physician assistants.