“It was about 2:30 a.m. one fall morning and Gabe started throwing up,” Michelle Davis says.
As the mother of a 2-year-old, she decided it was time to head to the clinic.
“Daycare had called the day before to tell us he was running a low-grade temperature. We knew he’d also been exposed to COVID-19, and he’d been feeling off,” Davis says.
She went online to reserve a spot, but there wasn’t anything available. So once the clinic opened, she and Gabe headed to urgent care at UnityPoint Clinic – Express in Waterloo, Iowa.
Walking into Urgent Care
“I knew it was going to be crazy, and it was. The clinic was full, and people were waiting. During that time, I watched the woman at the reception desk handle so many rude comments. Each time she was courteous and apologetic. I felt so bad for her,” Davis says.
She knew the Express clinics aim to get people in and out in about 30 minutes, but with the rapidly spreading delta COVID-19 variant and other viral illnesses peaking outside of their seasonal norm, many clinics are experiencing record-breaking patient volumes, which has resulted in some wait times that are longer than expected.
In fact, on the day Michelle and Gabe came in, the only provider in the clinic, Katie Wilcox, saw 99 patients between open and close. That’s about double the amount of a typical day.
Right before getting into a room, Davis says things got even worse.
“Gabe started throwing up again. I tried to keep the mess to our area instead of all over the waiting room. When I got back from the bathroom to help clean him up, one of the medical assistants was waiting for us, wiping up our area and handing us towels. Other staff helped us clean up, too,” Davis says.
Thankfully, she and Gabe were soon ushered to an exam suite to see the provider.
Finally, a Room...
“With a waiting room full of patients, you’d think our visit may be rushed, but it wasn’t. Katie took her time and answered all my questions. She was so patient. Besides being covered in vomit, we were easy patients, too. I never felt like we were being pushed out the door,” Davis says.
“I want to make sure patients are getting my best. I have been an advance nurse practitioner in the Express/urgent care setting the last 10 years. What I do is really my calling. I aim to keep a positive attitude and take it one patient at a time. It’s my obligation to understand each patient’s needs and help them get back to their everyday lives,” Wilcox says.
With higher patient volumes and longer waits, she wants patients to know she and her fellow care teams are doing their absolute best to get them seen — and better — as soon as they can.
Davis says she and Gabe have seen Wilcox twice this year, and each time she’s treated her and her son like they mattered.
“During the spring, Gabe woke up early and was coughing and couldn’t catch his breath. It was so scary, and I thought for sure we were going to be calling an ambulance. We stopped at urgent care to see Katie. She was very patient with me and could tell I was freaked out. She checked Gabe over and told me he had a lower respiratory infection. She told me it’d be OK, too, and I trusted her,” Davis said.
Advice for Using Urgent Care
Davis offers this advice to anyone who finds themselves in need of a doctor during a busy healthcare time, “Just have patience. Be kind. They’re working as hard as they can to take care of all of us and meet our needs as we come in.”
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