NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients and now, another medical option is also filling up.
Urgent Care doctors are seeing an incredible increase in patients consistent with the COVID surge hospitals are experiencing. The number of urgent care patients is inching closer to record levels.
“90% of what we’re seeing is COVID. That’s the need in the community,” said Dr. Hector Cabrera, Family Physician and Medical Director of LCMC Urgent Cares.
With long waits at the ER, Dr. Cabrera said urgent cares are seeing more critical patients in addition to COVID cases.
“The need is there,” Dr. Cabrera said. “We know that’s our role also as part of the frontline to kind of serve as a stop gap to help decompress the emergency room.”
The primary uptick though, is in patient visits from those who are COVID symptomatic and those simply wanting a test worried they were exposed.
“We’re seeing whole families come in that are positive. Before, maybe a family member was able to isolate and the rest of the family was less likely to get infected,” Dr. Cabrera said.
While more people are going to the urgent care, doctors do have tips to avoid the wait.
“Register online and you can access everything through your phone,” Dr. Cabrera said. “Enter your information and reason for coming in, insurance…all of that can be done ahead of time and virtually from the safety of your home.”
Tele-medicine appoints which allows a video or phone appointment between the patient and doctor are also becoming more popular. Providers say tele-medicine is a way to prevent exposure to germs and ultimately can help slow the spread of COVID.
Doctors cannot stree enough that if you are having an emergency, go to the ER.
The other big message from doctors is to get vaccinated.