Urgent care centers were set up so people could get fast, basic medical care without needing appointments, but with a surge in sick people, they now do need to make appointments.

UnityPoint Health is asking people to reserve a time slot online instead of walking in to its seven Urgent Care and Express locations in central Iowa. Dr. Patricia Newland, at UnityPoint’s Norwalk office, says they’re swamped. “We are seeing an usually high number of people with respiratory illnesses, things like RSV, flu and COVID 19,” Newland says. “This surge of respiratory illnesses is really overwhelming our ability to see everyone who wants to be seen within our urgent cares.”

The temporary change, she says, should allow the clinics to treat more people and to do so safely. “By controlling the flow and trying to have people make an appointment in advance, we can hopefully decrease the amount of time that patients are needing to sit in our lobbies,” Newland says, “and make sure that they’re able to be seen as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Given the number and severity of cases, flu shots are a must this season, Newland says, and she’s urging everyone to get vaccinated.
“They are widely available at pharmacies, at your primary care offices, as well as most any clinic,” Newland says. “The urgency is there, please get those flu shots. We are seeing a tremendous amount of influenza in our community and it’s much better to prevent than to end up sick and needing care.”

For non-urgent health concerns, she suggests calling your primary care provider first, and for serious or life-threatening health issues, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Radio Iowa