‘Definitely record volume’: Urgent cares, health clinics help COVID patients avoid already strained hospitals

Director says the line wraps around building at times

593 employees are out due to the spread of the omicron variant with 520 patients catching COVID which is up 10%.

DETROIT – With hospitals and emergency rooms overwhelmed with COVID patients, people in Metro Detroit are turning to urgent cares and health clinics.

“We have had definitely record volume,” said Dr. Bernice Sessa, regional medical director, Beaumont Urgent Care. “When they (staff) come in the morning there’s a huge line out the door and it’s, you know, sometimes wrapped around the building, and it’s non-stop.”

She said they are helping people get tested for COVID, seeing people who maybe couldn’t get in to see their primary doctor along with the everyday emergencies that bring people to an urgent care.

Institute for Population Health (IPH) has three health centers in Detroit. They take walk-ins but also offer medical and dental care along with STD testing. With this current surge in COVID cases they’re experiencing the same rush as Beaumont’s urgent cares.

“We have seen a record number, for us, amount of patients not only just for primary care, but also for COVID testing in COVID vaccinations,” said Mark Lynn, chief information officer for IPH.

Sessa said rush or not, situations like this are what urgent cares are there for.

“As urgent care clinics, we are the only option for some of these patients and we feel like we need to be here for the community,” Sessa said.

Carla Butcher, a family nurse practitioner at IPH said, “we’re trying to eliminate our patients from using the ER as a primary care facility.”

Both are seeing patients, in-person and virtually.

Sessa said depending on what the situation is they can start with telemedicine and meet with a provider through a virtual platform.

“If it’s something that you think is going to be a mild situation, but the provider thinks well you know what, it could be strep, and we should swab you, then we will send you to be seen by a provider in a clinic,” Sessa said.

That’s including mild cases of COVID.

Dr. Adrian Williams, another family nurse practitioner at IPH, said after they inform a patient of a positive COVID test they treat symptoms and prescribe medication if needed over the phone.

“If they feel like their symptoms are worsening, and they’re kind of making a decision of ‘should I go to the ER or should I stay home’, we are always available. We do have on-call hours too, after we’re closed from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” Williams said.

IPH is even doing home visits to get those who are homebound their COVID vaccine doses.

Sessa said long lines or waiting to get care can get frustrating, but encourages people to have patience.

“Everyone’s fatigue and rather it’s the providers giving to the patients or could be the community who was really frustrated but I think what we all need to be take into consideration that we’re all going through this and we all need to be kind to each other.”

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.