The concern over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus continues to strike fear in many Americans, especially those living in Dallas Texas and New York City, where patients who have recently traveled to western Africa are being treated for the virus.
Concern over the spread of the virus first came to light when two nurses treating an Ebola patient — the first and only patient who died of the virus while being treated in the United States — contracted the virus. While both nurses have made a full recovery, the second nurse to contract the virus traveled on a commercial flight while suffering from a fever. This caused widespread panic, as Ebola can only be spread to another by direct, physical contact with the body fluids of another who is showing symptoms of the virus such as a high grade fever, abdominal discomfort, and vomiting. While Ebola is not airborne, droplets from a cough or sneeze from a person who has Ebola contain the virus.
As such, health officials have now enacted a mandatory 21 day quarantine for those who have traveled to western Africa and treated Ebola patients. While this has caused much controversy — one nurse hired a civil rights defender, citing the quarantine as a violating of her rights — many feel it is best to err on the side of caution.
How do urgent care centers play into the Ebola outbreak? In the Dallas area, several urgent care clinics began preparing to treat patient who have come in contact with the virus by stocking up on additional hazardous material gear, such as respirators, suits, and gloves. Also, special quarantine rooms were prepped and staff underwent and reviewed CDC infectious disease training.
This happened as response to a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy who searched the apartment of the first patient to die from Ebola sough treatment at a local urgent care center.
This is a prime example of how several urgent care centers now offer advanced urgent care services, such as infectious disease evaluation and care. Advanced urgent care services continue to bridge the broad gap between traditional physician offices and hospital emergency departments. It is not uncommon for patients to seek advanced urgent care services for treatment of conditions such as concussions, broken bones, stitches, or other infectious diseases such as the highly contagious enterovirus EV-D68.
The line between hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers continues to blur, as urgent care centers continue to expand their services and take on a more prominent role.