Urgent care facilities busy with respiratory illness cases

Sick patients, from all across Central California, are struggling to get appointments with their primary care doctors.

Amanda Aguilar Image
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Urgent care facilities busy with respiratory illness cases
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Hospitals aren't the only places feeling the impact of the current surge of respiratory viruses -- urgent care facilities are too.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hospitals aren't the only places feeling the impact of the current surge of respiratory viruses -- urgent care facilities are too.

Sick patients, from all across Central California, are struggling to get appointments with their primary care doctors.

"The first thing they say to us is 'I can't get into my doctor, and I need to see somebody,'" explained Belinda Fonseca.

Some patients are now showing up to urgent care facilities, such as American Family Care Urgent Care in northwest Fresno.

Fonseca, the center's administrator, said children and seniors are filling the waiting room with the same illnesses hospitals are seeing.

"We've had a lot of children between the ages of five and eight years old that have come in here that have tested positive for RSV, COVID, or the flu," she said. "A lot of the elderly patients have had a lot of the chronic chest, not being able to breathe. Those have become pneumonia."

Patients are waiting between 30 minutes to an hour.

According to Fonseca, walk-ins are welcome but their online appointment scheduler helps cut down on the wait time.

"They do go online. They do make appointments. Then the walk-ins, we anticipate that we're going to have a lot of walk-ins, so we've also doubled on our providers," Fonseca said.

She also encourages people to use telemedicine visits, especially if they are showing symptoms.

If telemedicine isn't possible, they advise patients with symptoms to call ahead of time -- so testing can be done outside.

"Please, please do not come in," she said. "Because by the time that we figure it out that you've been exposed, or that you have the symptoms, then we may have literally contaminated the office."

With all the holiday gatherings -- staff expect a busy waiting room throughout January -- possibly February.