For the last 36 years, local residents looking for immediate medical care with a personal touch have been keeping “Bob and Kelly’s Immediate Care Center” busy. But after over three decades of prosperity, “Bob and Kelly’s” will be closing its doors later this month.
“We just can’t compete with the ‘big box’ immediate care centers any more”, said owner Robert “Bob” Perry. “I guess the writing was on the wall when those godd*** Norton (Immediate Care Centers) started popping up a few years back”.
Perry says the larger, corporately owned care centers are able to purchase medical supplies and equipment at a lower cost than he is, therefore offering lower cost medical care to patients and making it impossible for the independent immediate care centers to survive.
“Did you know that they can get flu shots for about 38 cents (per injection)? Meanwhile, I can’t get (a flu shot) for less than 55 godd*** cents. And their cost on (cotton) swabs and balls? I don’t even want to talk about that”.
Frequent and loyal patients like Joe Greenly of Crescent Hill will miss “Bob and Kelly’s”.
“It’s a great experience”, said Greenly. “(Bob and Kelly) know me by name, and they welcome me personally when I come in. They know what my frequent maladies were, and sometimes would already have a prescription ready for me when I get there. Most importantly, they just darn care about you. Like when Kelly scrapes the fungus off my feet, she takes the same care she would with her own kin’s (feet). Hell, the last time I had to go to one of them corporate (care centers), it seemed like (the doctor) wasn’t enjoying herself at all while scraping my feet, like she’d rather have been somewhere else.”
Long-time patient Sharon Hobbs also enjoyed the hometown feeling at “Bob and Kelly’s”.
“When I came in, Bob would stop treating a patient just to come over and shoot the flim-flam with me for a spell. And Kelly would bake treats in the oven they had there. She said (the oven) was to sterilize equipment, but heck, it got up to 428 degrees so she’d make treats for us patients in it. It sure was nice to walk into an immediate care center that smelled like rhubarb pie instead of rubbing alcohol.”
Greenly added that Bob and Kelly would always try to lighten the mood with some humor.
“Kelly and me had this joke where (when) I walked in, she would say ‘How you doing Joe?’ Then we would look at each other for a few seconds and finally I would say, ‘Well, I must feel like a duck’s rear end, or I wouldn’t be here.’ We always got a laugh out of that”
Financial analyst Andrew Wellmaker says that the Perry’s having to close their doors is symbolic of a bigger issue, one that has been brewing for years.
“The trend, for several years, has been for large retailers to push the ‘Mom and Pop” businesses out, mostly due to volume discounts and overall convenience”, said Wellmaker. “Today, smaller businesses must rely on personal service and attention to detail in order to demand a higher price from (customers). Unfortunately for the immediate care industry, most customers simply want to get their treatment and get the hell out of there as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.”
“Bob and Kelly’s” first opened its doors in 1981. The empty space is expected to be converted to a Blaze Pizza location in the next few months.