The urgent care industry has experienced exponential growth over the last few years, becoming the fastest growing segment in the American health care industry as the demand for affordable, accessible and quality healthcare continues to increase. This growth, in addition to the increasingly important role urgent care centers continue to play in the healthcare landscape, were just a few of the topics recently discussed by industry leaders at the Urgent Care Association of America Urgent Care Fall Conference.
The conference, which was the largest ever hosted by the association and which was held in Denver, CO in early October, brought physicians, medical professionals, Urgent Care Association of America leaders, and operators from around the country together to discuss and brainstorm successful practices as well as the future of the industry.
Urgent care clinics continue to bridge the gap between hospital emergency departments and physician’s offices, allowing the healthcare industry to keep up with the booming number of new patients, some who are newly insured via the Affordable Care Act. Urgent care clinics are ideal for acute, non-life threatening conditions that require immediate medical attention but are not severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
The conference was held amidst increasing concern over the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States. Following the death of a man stricken with the highly contagious virus in Dallas, Texas, and now a 26-year-old nurse who also contracted Ebola while caring for the man as a patient, a San Antonio urgent care center has taken steps to ensure they are prepared to treat a patient with Ebola should the virus continue to spread.
The San Antonio clinic has stocked protective gear, including gloves, face masks, and gowns. Patients seeking treatment at the clinic who are exhibiting signs of the virus, including high fever, vomiting, and raised rashes, will be treated with extreme caution. The clinic has also prepared a designated room to quarantine potentially infected patients. Several other urgent care clinics in Texas have begun to follow suit.
Ebola is contracted through direct contact with body fluid from an infected individual showing symptoms of the virus. In a recently released statement, the CDC announced that the nurse contracted Ebola due to a “breach of protocol.”
Urgent care facilities have also played a major role in the treatment of enterovirus EV-D68, a respiratory infection afflicting young children that has continued to spread to several states.
“Urgent care centers treat a variety of ailments, everything from minor burns, lacerations, sprains and strains to elective care such as travel medicine or flu shots,” says Alison Hare, Practice Manager at Doctors Express Englewood. “That’s the amazing thing about urgent care centers, we can treat MANY different types of medical issues all under one roof without having to send patients to the emergency room or costing them a fortune.”