Dollar General gets into health care with three mobile clinics near southwestern Kentucky, says it will expand if successful

Retailer has widely expanded into rural areas recently


Lexington, Ky.–Dollar General Corp., a Scottsville, Kentucky-born company that moved its headquarters to suburban Nashville but has become ubiquitous across the commonwealth, has expanded into health care.

The retailer has established two mobile clinics just south of Clarksville, Tenn, which sits on the Kentucky border at Fort Campbell, and one at Cumberland Furnace, Tenn., between Clarksville and Dickson.

The clinics are operated by DocGo, which says it operates in 26 states as a “last-mile” health-care provider. It “sends clinicians to locations to provide care that would typically require patients to visit a physical clinic,” reports Advisory Board, a health-care consultancy. “If the pilot is successful, the company said it will likely expand the mobile clinics to additional locations.”

The company has created a DG Wellbeing brand of health-care products. Its website says the mobile clinics will offer urgent care services, physical exams and routine checkups, vaccinations and immunizations, screening and lab testing, and care for chronic conditions, including hypertension and diabetes.

The clinics accept Medicaid, Medicare, and some private insurance. They bill at urgent-care rates. 

“Dollar General is not the first retailer to launch a ‘retail health care’ business,” Advisory Board says. “However, some experts believe the company could be uniquely poised to expand access to care in rural, underserved communities. Dollar General’s widespread presence in rural areas could serve as a competitive advantage.”

The company estimates that 75 percent of the U.S. population lives within five miles of one of its stores, and “Many of its retail locations are in areas that are far from traditional healthcare options and other ;retail health care’ companies,” Advisory Board says.

“Still, as Dollar General continues expanding its health-care presence, some experts have noted that the retailer may face staffing issues like those that exist in the larger healthcare sector. Jeff Goldsmith, president of the consultancy Health Futures, told Advisory Board, “Anybody that wants to do something new is going to have to figure out how to staff up. . . . The fundamental question is, why work for them? What’s the value proposition for the health-care worker?”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.