When Maggie Luttrell realized late one Saturday that her child had come down with pink eye, her first plan of action was to find an urgent care clinic in hopes of getting the issue addressed in order to limit spread to her other family members.
The issue? Luttrell said she could not find an urgent care open in the Overland Park area.
“I had been searching AdventHealth, I drove over to an HCA facility, my pediatrician, even my backup pediatric urgent care, they’re all closed on the weekend,” Luttrell said.
Luttrell’s fruitless search that weekend turned out to be yet another byproduct of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic last year, staffing shortages have hit many industries hard, and local hospitals and health care systems say they are no different.
Both AdventHealth, which operates Centra Care, and HCA, which runs CareNow, say several of their urgent care clinics in Johnson County have had to roll back their hours due to a lack of staff.
“There are times that demand for our services outweighs supply,” said Mary Devers, CareNow’s chief medical director. “Like other health care businesses nationally, there is a workforce shortage.”
Devers said in order to keep all 10 of the CareNow centers throughout the region running, some of their locations, such as their Overland Park North clinic at 9507 Antioch Road, have had to recently adjust their hours to closing early at 4 p.m.
Morgan Shandler, a spokesperson for AdventHealth, said many Centra Care facilities have also had to cut their hours. Previously, their clinics had been open on weekends, now they are only open from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
It is not just a lack of staffing either that has caused many urgent cares in the area to roll back their hours, there is also an increase in demand for health care.
Shandler said medical needs for things such as COVID testing have brought in a higher demand for medical care, stretching already thin staffs further.
The diminishment in hours may not change any time soon either.
While both AdventHealth and HCA say the new hours are only temporary, neither of the entities could say when they expect their hours to change back to normal. It all depends on when they are able to hire new staff.
“We continue to aggressively recruit staff, and are committed to our patients and our community,” Devers said.
If you are in need of medical attention on the weekends or after hours on week nights and an urgent care clinic in your area is not open, there are alternatives.
Due to her lack of options, Luttrell ultimately ended up taking her child to a CVS MinuteClinic. The walk-in clinic at the national pharmacy chain’s local franchises can help those who are dealing with minor health issues.
Additionally, though many of urgent care clinics have changed to only operating during regular business hours, some have not.
Shandler said while Centra Care locations in Olathe and Overland Park are currently operating at reduced hours, their Shawnee location at 11245 Shawnee Mission Parkway is still under its normal operating hours.