“We reviewed the latest research and innovations and developed strategies urgent care centers can adopt to better meet patient needs as we head into the flu season,” said Frank Illuzzi, MD, EVP of quality and provider education at CityMD and Clinical Consortium chair.
WARRENVILLE, Ill. (PRWEB) August 18, 2020
A COVID-19 surge, along with the upcoming flu season, could create the “worst fall” in history, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield. To ensure that the urgent care industry is prepared for a combined COVID-19 and influenza season, the Urgent Care Foundation (UCF), an affiliate of the Urgent Care Association (UCA), recently held its second annual Urgent Care Clinical Consortium, bringing the top 40 urgent care leaders in the country together with federal and state public health experts and other industry stakeholders to discuss best practices for a novel environment including both COVID-19 and influenza.
“With an unprecedented fall and winter before us, it was essential that industry decision makers collaborate to prepare. We reviewed the latest research and innovations and developed strategies urgent care centers can adopt to better meet patient needs as we head into the flu season,” said Frank Illuzzi, MD, EVP of quality and provider education at CityMD and Clinical Consortium chair. “We curated all of the resources shared during the Consortium and will deploy that information to our 4,000+ members in the coming weeks through email and the UCA Events mobile app.”
COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness
Presenters from the CDC and other state and local public health agencies, along with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies providing COVID-19 and influenza diagnostics, such as Abbott, Quidel, Cepheid and Roche, shared the latest updates and best practices with key urgent care leaders from across the country. In addition, Experity Health, the largest urgent care industry electronic medical records (EMR) company, shared up-to-date surveillance trends on historically high patient volume in urgent centers around the country due to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
In response to requests from state and local public health organizations, the Urgent Care Association (UCA) has created a National COVID-19 Testing Database to ensure that patients are aware of the thousands of urgent care center testing sites located in their communities and to facilitate the rapid deployment of public health communications and messaging to urgent care centers nationwide.
“The combination of flu and COVID-19 outbreaks in the fall is a tremendous threat to public health across the country. It will require a coordinated approach to ensure at-risk patients end up in the most appropriate clinical setting whether it’s for testing or treatment,” said Steve Sellars, CEO of Premier Health and president of the Urgent Care Foundation. “Barring an emergency, going to or a virtual visit with an urgent care clinic first offers quick, no-appointment access to care. Just as important, it keeps non-emergency patients out of the ER leaving beds open for the most critically ill patients to get potentially life-saving treatment. Urgent care clinics have implemented protocols and training to make sure patients and staff in the clinic are safe.”
Flu Shots in the COVID-19 Environment
The UCA, in collaboration with the College of Urgent Care Medicine (CUCM), works with their members and industry leaders across the U.S. to determine best practices for administering flu shots while adhering to CDC guidelines and the COVID-19 triage processes they have already put in place, including:
- Encouraging patients to call their local urgent care center ahead of time
- Asking patients to wait in their cars – or at home – until an exam room is ready
- Triaging patients through unique doors, who are then moved immediately to an exam room
- Conducting initial visits through telemedicine or drive-through care
Urgent care centers are independently owned and operated and are providing care that's respectful of state policies, and the process may vary depending upon the needs of their communities.
“We don’t want patients neglecting other health concerns as a result of COVID-19. Urgent care centers play a significant role in helping individuals and families, especially during the flu season this fall,” said Lou Ellen Horwitz, CEO of the UCA. “With walk-in, after-hours and weekend availability, urgent care centers offer convenient access to flu shots, cold and flu treatment, and more for busy patients.”
Clinical Consortium partners will continue to share resources, surveillance data, updates on new diagnostics, supplies and trends in patient volume to ensure that the industry has the most up-to-date information to meet patient demands with expected surges in volume at the beginning of the 2020-21 flu season.
To access UCA’s COVID-19 resources, please visit https://www.ucaoa.org/Resources/Coronavirus-Resources. To find an urgent care center this upcoming flu season, visit https://www.ucaoa.org/Resources/Find-an-Urgent-Care.
About the Urgent Care Foundation
The Urgent Care Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit entity, and is the singular, nationally-recognized entity devoted to the support of education, research, philanthropy and awareness of urgent care. The Urgent Care Foundation enhances the role, purpose and awareness of urgent care medicine by inspiring and contributing to research, education, clinical and practice management leadership, as well as innovation in new and emerging healthcare delivery models. The Foundation is affiliated with the Urgent Care Association (UCA).
About the Urgent Care Association
The Urgent Care Association (UCA) is a membership association of leaders, providers, and suppliers in the field of on-demand, consumer-focused healthcare. UCA advances the industry and supports member success through advocacy, research, education, collaboration, and high standards of care. The association maintains an active online presence and member community for daily exchange of best practices. For more information, visit http://www.ucaoa.org.