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How Are Urgent Care Clinics Dealing With the Threat of Coronavirus?

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The first line of defense against the spread of any disease is often the health care workers on the front lines, like those at the American Family Care Urgent Care in Waltham, Massachusetts.

"When you come through our doors, immediately you'll see there's a sign that posts CDC criteria for risk of COVID-19 exposure, and that includes fever or respiratory symptoms or shortness of breath," said Dr. Kristina Orio, the clinic's medical director.

COVID-19, the new coronavirus, is at the top of mind for the staff, who now automatically get a recent travel history from patients before they even go back to see the provider.

If they're symptomatic or have questionable travel history, they're immediately isolated.

"So the patient would be brought back to a room while they're in a mask, and then our providers actually wear some more specialized equipment, which include an N95 mask, a face shield and a fluid-impermeable gown, as well as gloves," Orio said.

AFC Urgent Care would then notify the Department of Public Health, and possibly even the CDC.

"Often, they'll ask us to get blood samples, potentially urine samples, respiratory swabs, and so we'll follow that guideline and send off testing as need be," said Orio.

As part of the facility's preparedness for the anticipated spread of this virus, the clinical staff has daily mock patient training with willing participants as they run through and discuss different scenarios for treating potential patients.

"We run through those every day, and drilling those things keeps us on our toes and keeps us ready to accept patients as they come in and treat them appropriately," Orio said.

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