Valley urgent care offices see surge of patients

Brianna Willis Image
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Valley urgent care offices see patient surge
The increase in respiratory viruses is not only pushing emergency rooms to maximum capacity but also urgent care and primary doctors.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The increase in respiratory viruses this winter season is not only pushing emergency rooms to maximum capacity but also urgent care and primary doctors.

"What we're seeing across the Valley is that the emergency departments are impacted, and as a result, we're seeing that the wait times for non-urgent issues in the emergency departments exceeds 10 hours in many cases," said Dr. Gregory Williams, CMO with United Health Centers.

Doctor Gregory Williams, Chief medical officer with United Health Centers, says hospitals and emergency rooms are packed, and it also creates long waits at doctors' offices and urgent care facilities.

"We have patients literally coming in 15 minutes before we close because they're needing to have to be seen, and also because they're being turned away from other health centers because they have also met their capacity for the night," said Belinda Fonseca with AFC urgent care.

Fonseca says her employees have to stay one to two hours later than usual right now to accommodate the surge in patients.

"But what I have done as a result is I have pumped up my staff. I now have three providers on our busiest days. We typically are on Mondays, Fridays, and over the weekend," said Fonseca.

Fonseca says in addition to the flu, COVID, and RSV. They are also seeing patients who aren't testing positive for any of the respiratory viruses but have horrible symptoms that are difficult to treat.

Both say it is important to seek care as soon as possible.

"Obviously, just because we're human beings, we wait to the very last, when we cannot obviously be able to handle anymore. And that may be really well for the older, middle-aged type of individual. But when you're talking about children and the elderly, those when you become symptomatic, you really need to come in immediately," said Fonseca.

"Generally any high fevers, shortness of breath, severe headaches, severe body aches inability to tolerate liquids or solids. These are all symptoms that should trigger you to be seen urgently, preferably in urgent care or by your primary care provider. It's based in those cases not to delay because it's important to make sure that you are treated and evaluated in a timely manner so that things don't get worse," said Williams.

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