Urgent care clinics see influx of patients with coronavirus concerns

Several emergency and urgent care centers in Houston say they’ve seen an influx in patients with coronavirus-related visits.

Doctors at Elite Care 24 Hour Emergency Center in Rice Village say they are seeing more patients since the start of the year, and the big new question from those patients is “Do I have coronavirus?”

“We are seeing probably 10 to 20 patients a day with that specific question on their mind: coronavirus,” said Christopher Grieves, MD at the clinic. “The majority, yes, we’ve been able to either determine that they have influenza, that they have pneumonia—either bacterial or viral. However, we have had a couple of cases here that we have sent off for testing.”

RELATED: Timeline of Coronavirus COVID-19 in greater Houston area

Grieves says international travel is one key in doctors’ decision-making on whether to do further testing for coronavirus COVID-19.

“What we’re concerned about is: people with fever, cough, and shortness of breath,” said Grieves.

So far none of the patients with those symptoms have ended up having COVID-19 at Grieves’ clinic, but they are prepared just in case with a room designated for quarantine.

It’s a similar story Bellaire ER on Bellaire Blvd where the “trauma room” is ready for quarantine if needed, as more patients come in with coronavirus fears.

“I would say at least 20 to 30 patients a week that come in asking about it,” said Darrell Clark with Bellaire ER.

Some of those patients are being screened through a 24-hour telemedicine center at the clinic.

“Patients asking if we should come into the ER or most patients asking questions about going out into the general public,” said Clark.

Clark says some patients are just asking for the newly coveted sanitation supplies.

“Mask, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, those different kinds of things--because of all the stores selling out,” said Clark.

Clinics are now gearing up for the possibility of even more patient visits, as Governor Abbott on Tuesday asked all health insurance providers to waive costs associated with coronavirus.

“Forcing all insurance companies to provide care to all patients regardless of their needs,” said Clark.

Despite all the new patients with coronavirus concerns, doctors at both facilities featured in this article said they have zero patients testing positive for COVID-19. In fact, to date, there are still just 13 cases of the virus in the Houston area.