The Vital Role Urgent Care Clinics Play in American Healthcare

Urgent care center

Within the last six months, America has experienced a series of major health scares, including a Western African Ebola outbreak that brought the virus into American hospitals for the first time, a particularly severe cold and flu season, and most recently, a measles outbreak in southern California.

While these incidences are not related, they do have one thing in common: urgent care clinics played a significant role in each situation.

When Nina Pham, the 26-year-old nurse who contracted Ebola after caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with the deadly virus, urgent care centers in the surrounding Dallas area were on high alert.

After a sheriff’s deputy — it was later determined the sheriff’s deputy did not have Ebola — who was involved in a search of Duncan’s apartment sought treatment for Ebola-like symptoms at a local urgent care clinic, urgent care locations around the country began preparing the for the worst, especially after fear of the virus continued to spread.

The severity of the 2014-2015 cold and flu season has caused many patients to seek treatment and vaccination at urgent care clinics around the country. As more urgent care facilities begin offering point-of-care prescription dispensing, urgent care has become paramount in treating the influx of cold and flu patients by offering an affordable, convenient option to seeking treatment at an emergency room or family doctor’s office.

Recently, a southern California urgent care center temporarily closed its doors when a patient seeking treatment for measles-like symptoms, entered the clinic. The patient was placed in an isolated room, while the state’s department of health was called in order to begin infectious disease protocol. It was later confirmed the patient tested positive for measles.

Once regarded as “doc in a box” offices, urgent care has become an essential aspect of the American healthcare system by bridging the gap between over-crowded hospital emergency rooms and short-staffed doctor offices. See this link for more references.

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