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Urgent care wait times grow longer and it’s not just because of COVID

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Urgent cares are fuller than ever and wait times are hours long. We spoke with one local urgent care that is doing double duty, while facing steep challenges.

Mainstreet Urgent Care in Pelham is among urgent cares trying to shorten wait times while caring for more people than ever.

It’s worse than last year.

“At the end of July, beginning of August, very rapidly skyrocketed, and we are now seeing more volume than we did at any point last year,” said Betsy Stewart, a spokesperson for Mainstreet Urgent Care.

They aren’t just seeing patients come in for COVID testing and COVID issues; as school has resumed, they’re seeing all kinds of maladies.

“You’ve got more cases of other viral stuff going around, strep, injuries as people are getting back out there,” said Stewart.

Mainstreet uses an online registration system in an effort to cut the time waiting. People can register, get an estimate and wait at home or in the car.

That also keeps people from packing lobbies and potentially spreading germs.

“It will look and see as people are registering what they are registering for, about how long does that visit take and it will kind of decide if the staff has that time to see them that day,” she added.

She recommends registering early. The system opens half an hour before the clinics do and she has a small request.

“We just ask for patience with our staff,” said Stewart.

She says many doctors offices are experiencing staffing shortages and urgent cares are not immune.

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