Coronavirus and Healthcare: Why We Need Urgent Care Centers More Than Ever Before
July 21, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll in an entirely unanticipated way. Too many Americans are avoiding emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and even routine doctor’s appointments as a result of COVID-19. These patients fear coming into contact with a person or persons with the virus, and that fear drives them to put off necessary care.

Take a closer look at the problem and potential solutions below.

An Unexpected Consequence Of COVID-19: Patients Aren’t Getting Treated For Other Conditions

“It is vitally important to find and establish yourself with a primary care doctor and get routine checkups to identify and treat any hidden health conditions that may be afflicting you,” USA Today writes. If you do not have a primary care physician or you need care after hours, an urgent care center or dual model clinic — one with an emergency room and urgent care clinic — is a convenient and worthwhile option for you to keep in mind.

Neglecting to get treatment when you experience milder symptoms can be damaging to your long-term health. These symptoms may indicate a much larger problem that can go unnoticed and unchecked if they are not monitored by a healthcare professional. Treating things as they come up can prevent some types of cancer and stave off heart disease.

Unfortunately, preventative care is not the only thing that is lacking right now. Some patients with existing heart conditions and cancers are skipping or delaying appointments, thanks to COVID-19. According to a study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology (JACC), hospital emergency rooms were treating 40% fewer heart attacks as of April 2020. Unfortunately, that statistic does not mean that fewer people are suffering from heart attacks. It means that fewer people are going to the hospital to get treated for them. Stroke patients, appendicitis patients, and cancer patients are also delaying treatments markedly longer than they should, also owing to fears of contracting coronavirus.

Why Urgent Care Centers Are The Solution

This problem is not going unnoticed or unaddressed. Emergency rooms and urgent care businesses are taking steps to ensure the safety of all patients, whether they are positive for COVID-19 or not. It is very common for healthcare professionals to screen patients first and handle their care accordingly.

The dual model enables providers to redirect patients as necessary. COVID-19 positive patients or patients displaying COVID-19 systems may be treated in the emergency room and enter and exit through a designated door. Urgent care consultants may direct patients without coronavirus, on the other hand, into their clinics or to go to the emergency room, but use an entirely separate entrance to come and go.

There is a strong consensus among healthcare providers: never ignore the symptoms of serious conditions, like cardiac arrest. It is always best to go to the emergency room for life-threatening conditions — yes, even during a global pandemic.

Additional Services Urgent Care Centers Provide

Urgent care centers and dual model clinics are serving the important role of relieving stress on emergency rooms and hospitals. Up until recently, most antibody testing and clinical trials took place at hospitals. As cases surge or otherwise fluctuate, it may not always be feasible to set aside space for these purposes. Urgent care and dual model centers can help in two ways: 1. diverting non-emergency cases from emergency rooms and hospitals, or 2. providing additional space for clinical trials and antibody testing. Additionally, it may reassure patients to participate in these tests and trials at an urgent care center, where there are fewer positive coronavirus patients.

As a nation, we continue to navigate the trials of the coronavirus, its spread, and various reopening phases. Urgent care and dual model centers are helping ease some of the burdens of care previously placed on emergency rooms alone.