AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As more and more people seek medical care due to the increase in COVID-19 infections, local urgent care facilities are becoming overwhelmed.
A tent and full parking lot are both signs that more people need to be tested for coronavirus. That could be seen at MedNow’s fifth added location in Augusta, where staff members face similar challenges seen at hospitals.
“We have had a challenge with hundreds or even thousands of people a week wanting to get tested. We’ve had to come up with some innovative solutions really on the fly,” said MedNow Urgent Care Centers CEO Dr. Mark Newton.
The traffic flowing into the old PDQ turned MedNow Rapid COVID Testing center on Washington Road near I-20 reveals just how many people are dealing with coronavirus locally. Dr. Newton said it all started around Thanksgiving.
“We saw that again right before Christmas. We thought it would taper off afterwards. We were open the Saturday and Sunday after Christmas and the Saturday and Sunday after New Years. We’ve not seen it taper off, as a matter of fact with the community spread seeming to increase,” he said.
Dr. Newton said that spread is up more than 20 percent at MedNow with 750 to 850 people on average being tested daily at its four locations across the CSRA. He said the old PDQ tests around 300 to 350 a day.
We checked in with University Hospital to see how its local urgent cares are doing. In a statement, Medical Director of University’s Prompt and Primary Care facilities Dr. Sherwood said:
“We are averaging 80-100 patients per day during the week at all seven locations and 50 per day on the weekend. We are averaging 40-45 per day with COVID symptoms and an average of 30% are positive for COVID. The positivity rate back in July through September was 11%.”
And some of the staff at MedNow have tested positive too adding more stress to those still working. Right now, these cases are not candidates for telemedicine. But Newton said he’s working to mitigate crowds that could potentially pass infections while waiting.
Dr. Newton said, “We’ve got our staff working as hard as they can to keep people the minimum amount of time. We put a tent up outside that allows people to wait in a well ventilated area. We put some outdoor heaters out there.”
For now, Newton said he and several members of his staff have received the vaccine and hoping to make it available for more people soon.
“The vaccine is like wearing the N-95 [mask] 24 hours a day, which I can guarantee you no one can do,” he said. “It gives you this great protection even without wearing a mask.”
Dr. Newton is pushing people to MedNow’s website to help with the check in process when you arrive at any location.