The Coronavirus (Covid19) has taken most of America and the world for that matter by surprise, sending healthcare providers scrambling to figure out how to navigate the rapidly expanding needs of possible Coronavirus patients. Testing has been at the forefront of fighting the spread of the virus, which until recently could only be done in a hospital or specialized labs.
However, just as rapidly as this virus is spreading, so too is the ingenuity of the state and Federal Government’s Coronavirus Task Force response teams. While most COVID-19 testing is still being conducted in hospitals, state and local Public Health Departments and drive-up testing sites, a new familiar face has been added to the arsenal of weapons being used to fight the pandemic.
Urgent Care Centers Could Prove To Be A Critical Part Of The Covid Testing Challenge
Urgent Care Centers have long been an asset to Americans seeking non-emergency medical care, widely seen as less expensive or time consuming than a trip to the emergency room or sometimes even your doctors office. But now UrgentCare Centers are being inundated with patients seeking testing and or treatment for the Coronavirus.
Here’s what you need to know if you are considering going to an Urgent Care Center for your Coronavirus symptoms. While many or most of the urgent care centers will see patients, either in person or through a telemedicine visit, for individuals who are concerned they may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it, you need to know that not all urgent care centers are equipped to provide Coronavirus testing yet.
You Can Register With UrgentCare.com To Be Notified When UrgentCare Centers In Your Area Begin Providing Testing
It’s important to know you can rest assured that the CDC has provided protocol guidance to all healthcare providers, clinics, and institutions (including urgent care centers) regarding the level of protections required for interaction with possible Coronavirus patients (called PPE) to prevent the spread of the virus from patient to patient and to healthcare providers.
Response to the Coronavirus is a very fast moving environment and is often changing from day to day because of the urgency of finding rapid and expanded testing sites and methods. Therefore, not all urgent care centers have adequate staff, tests, lab equipment, or site facilities to accommodate drive-up COVID-19 testing.
As of 2018 there were more than 8,700 urgent care centers in the United States, so your first step would be to locate an urgent care center that is within your area of travel and call to ask if they provide COVID-19 tests. As of the writing of this article, April 2, 2020 most of the urgent care centers that have the testing equipment and supplies are affiliated with a hospital. In example, in New York which is now considered the epicenter of the virus at the moment, GoHealth Urgent Care centers which are affiliated with the Northwell Health hospital system where their centers are providing testing for more than 100 patients a day.
Typically the urgent care center you call will first interview you by phone or text to ask you specific symptoms and general health related questions in order to further advise you as to your next steps. If you cannot find a local urgent care center in your area contact your local or state Health Department or the CDC. As rapid testing methods increase and test supplies become more available, so too will the ability of all urgent care centers to provide Americans nationwide with testing and treatment in the fight of this pandemic.