The Kroger Co. has been at the forefront of offering direction and guidance during the pandemic, but its latest announcement takes its leadership on the crisis to a whole new level.
The grocery retail giant has partnered with CLIA-certified laboratory Gravity Diagnostics, based in Covington, Kentucky, to develop an at-home COVID-19 test capable of returning results in 24-48 hours. Samples are collected via mid-turbinate nasal swabs – the same process that Kroger Health has deployed at its COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites, where its multidisciplinary team has collectively administered 150,000 tests.
The new testing program is part of COVIDCare Plus, a complete employer-focused health- and-wellness solution designed to help American companies restart and maintain their business operations. The testing program is centered on Kroger Health’s FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which combines self-administered testing with virtual supervision by a licensed health care provider to help ensure the highest level of accuracy of test results.
As case counts rise and demand for testing increases, providing adequate amounts of COVID-19 tests continues to be a challenge. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), demand for testing has tripled, while results are taking up to three weeks to deliver in the hardest-hit areas. Speed of reporting results is a critical component to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
“We know testing continues to be a critical pillar in the fight against COVID-19,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. “And yet, our country faces ongoing challenges to keep pace with demand. At Kroger Health, we are grateful to be part of the solution by providing employers with COVID-19 testing that has a short turnaround time. This is paramount to keeping American businesses open and people at work.”
Kroger Health’s COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit includes a telehealth consultation provided at the time of specimen collection. Supervision of the collection process by a licensed health care professional improves the quality of the sample collected, increases accessibility and reduces patient anxiety.
In addition to COVID-19 testing and management services, COVIDCare Plus will offer employers and their teams access to advanced clinical services like vaccinations, telehealth and telenutrition. These services are focused on driving actionable behavior change that helps combat the larger crisis of chronic disease that affects nearly half of Americans. According to the 2020 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, 72% of Americans are either overweight or obese, and more than 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes. The study also states that poor diet is now the leading cause of poor health in the United States. Kroger Health’s expertise in “food as medicine,” combined with the company's position as America’s largest grocery retailer, enables a broad set of solutions to address health, wellness and nutrition.
“We are solving for the pandemic while building for the epidemic,” Lindholz said. “COVID-19 is our clear focus in the short term, and we have a strong plan in place to help drive our country’s recovery efforts. However, we know that – now more than ever – a focus on health and wellness needs to become an ongoing way of life for all of us. That’s why we are committed to providing organizations with the services we know their employees and stakeholders need to stay healthy.”
Kroger Health is the fourth-largest retail health care organization in America, with more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states serving more than 14 million customers. COVIDCare Plus is currently available in 17 states, with more coming soon.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,757 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.