Colds blamed for urgent care spike

Some clinics have added staff to meet higher demand

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 10, 2013 

— Local urgent care clinics say they are seeing a surge in patients at their facilities.

Many more people tend to come down with a cold or the flu during this time of year, health officials said.

A Families Urgent Care has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase of people coming into the clinic, said Anthony White, office manager. "It's the new cold virus that's going around," he said.

Patients are coming in with a stuffy nose, headaches, sore throat, sinuses, earaches and a cough among other symptoms, he said. Some patients are relapsing. "People are getting it back again because they are not getting the proper rest," White said.

If people are sick, the best they can do is to stay home, said a provider with Fountain View Urgent Care, which has also seen an increase in the volume of patients.

Fountain View is averaging 60 to 80 patients a day, according to Monica Rodriguez, office manager. However, she said that's typical for this time of year. Most people are coming in with a cold and cough.

The average wait to be seen at Fountain View is around 15-20 minutes, Rodriguez said. The average wait time at A Families Urgent Care is between 30 and 45 minutes for walk-ins, White said.

Jason Garcia, clinical supervisor with Castle Family Health Centers, said they have seen about a 25 percent increase in patients coming in, but that's the norm for them as well.

"Every flu season is different," he said. "You never know when it's going to peak."

Last month, Castle added two nursing staff members to help its clinic get ready for the anticipated increase. It plans to add a few more staff members once the flu season picks up in the area, Garcia said.

The clinic saw an increase in flu shot requests last month, he said, but there's no indication that there could be a vaccine shortage.

The increase of patients at Castle has been seen at its regular clinic and at its urgent care facility, which are next to each other.

It's recommended that residents wash their hands frequently and cover their coughs.

"The elderly population and children are definitely more susceptible to illness," Garcia said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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