Urgent care centers brace for waves ahead as RNs become scarce

Texas Board of Nursing is reporting an increase in the number of registered nurses becoming inactive

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Board of Nursing is reporting an increase in the number of registered nurses notifying it that they want their license to become inactive.

Dr. David Gude, COO of Texas MedClinic, says the recent wave of COVID-19 has nurses busier than even last year.

“We’re actually seeing numbers that are slightly above what we were seeing this time last year in August,” Gude said.

Texas MedClinic has 19 locations in Austin, New Braunfels and Bulverde, as well as San Antonio. They’re seeing close to 1,200 people daily across those clinics.

The majority are related to COVID-19 visits, with about 100 a day for vaccines and another 600 are for testing. Gude says the center also keeps busy with procedural occupational medicine and providing services to employers. To ensure they serve non-COVID-19 patients, too, they take in walk-ins, although wait times may vary.

“We only put about half of our business online for registration. That way, the other half will be reserved for people who are sick and walk-in and need to be seen for other problems or because they’re very sick with COVID-19 itself,” Gude said.

The demand for health care is putting a strain on an already short pool of nurses. The Texas Board of Nursing shows a 91% increase in registered nurses providing notice to change their license status to inactive over the year 2020. The numbers are only three-quarters of the data the board has so far this year.

Numbers by the Texas Board of Nursing (KSAT 2021)

Gude says his centers are luckily staying staffed.

“We’re fortunate our staff is really maintaining a positive attitude. I think it would be a lot more discouraging in a hospital setting, where they’re probably seeing much, much sicker people and having to deal with much more challenging problems than we are on a day-to-day basis,” Gude explained.

Texas MedClinics started collecting data about minors’ visits in preparation for the return to school. As optimistic as he tries to be, Gude says he’s bracing for the waves of infections to continue until everyone is vaccinated.

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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.