It is a simple fact of life that people young and old will sometimes suffer wounds or illnesses during their everyday lives. Today, countless urgent care centers can be found across the United States, and convenient medical care might not be far away. Walk in clinics can be found in nearly any city, town, or community, and a responsible adult may search for such a clinic using a PC or a mobile device when someone nearby needs care. The seeker may enter a query such as “urgent care near me Miami FL” or “walk in clinics in San Diego CA”, and the seeker may also include their ZIP code to refine their search. This way, the seeker may find a whole list of urgent care centers in their area, as well as the name, address, and hours of operation of each clinic. Not all clinics are open 24 hours a day, but even those that are not may have broad hours of operation for their patients’ convenience. What is there to know about the urgent care industry in the United States today, and what sort of maladies might necessitate a visit to one?
On Urgent Care
For decades, urgent care centers have been in operation in the United States to provide medical treatment for non life-threatening wounds, illnesses, and other conditions. These care centers are distinct from a hospital’s ER, although some urgent care centers can in fact be found inside hospitals as a distinct entity. Now, in the 2010s, thousands of urgent care centers can be found across the United States, and they tend to be either small and independent centers or linked into small local networks with one another. Many urban centers may have a number of such clinics, and construction crews are often at work building new ones in rural areas that do not yet have their own clinic.
Some urgent care centers are standalone buildings, although many of them may be found in strip malls across North America. Meanwhile, others are built into a larger parent building, such as a retailer or a hospital. It may be noted that even if an urgent care center is built into a hospital, that care center’s medical services and its staff are distinct from that of the hospital at large. It is possible for a patient at such a clinic to entirely ignore the hospital itself and only get their treatment from the urgent care clinic. This is highly practical for patients whose medical needs are not serious enough for the hospital itself.
Other walk in clinics are retail clinics, meaning that they are incorporated into larger retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, among other brands. These retail clinics tend to have pharmacies in them, and shoppers at these retailers may appreciate being able to pick up a prescription drug refill during their shopping trip. Retail clinics may or may not have similar hours of operation as the larger retailer, so interested customers may want to check the hours of their local clinic.
A typical urgent care clinic will have a staff of nurse practitioners and physicians on staff who have the proper training, medicine supplies, and medical tools to address a variety of illnesses and wounds among their patients. If such a clinic is running smoothly, it may treat about three patients per hour, and a patient may expect a wait time of 15 minutes or so when they visit. Many such clinics accept a variety of healthcare insurance policies, too.
A patient at an urgent care center may need medicinal relief from common illnesses such as the flu or cold, and upper respiratory infections are another common reason to visit these clinics. A patient may also get ointment and lotion for a rash, and they may get medicine for the stomach flu. Four out of five such clinics also treat bone fractures, and most of these clinics will offer medical attention for a sprained ankle or wrist. Meanwhile, staff may provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, such as if a person stepped on broken glass. These clinics also tend to have pharmacies in them so that patients may get a prescription drug refill during their visit.