Portland urgent care clinics see increase in patients as flu and RSV spread

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:42 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With hospitals in the Pacific Northwest seeing an overwhelming number of patients sick with this year’s strain of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), urgent cares are seeing their waiting rooms fill up too.

Dr. Andrew Miller, Chief Medical Officer for AFC Urgent Care said last Monday was a record-breaking day for his company. Across their Portland area network, AFC Urgent Care clinics treated more than 400 people. Dr. Miller said on high-volume days they average around 300 patients. When FOX 12 visited  Dr. Miller’s clinic in Northwest Portland, every chair in the waiting room was full and he said he expected the network of clinics would see similar numbers as the previous Monday.

“We’re seeing people with fever, with cough, and with congestion,” Dr. Miller said. “We’re seeing people asking for a COVID-19 test and it’s turning out that they have the flu. We’re seeing people who think they have the flu, but we’re testing for more things and finding out that maybe it’s RSV or a different.”

Dr. Miller showed FOX 12 the machines his clinic uses to test for wide viruses and bacteria infections. He said testing for RSV is similar to that for COVID, a medical professional swabs the inside of a patient’s nose for a sample that will be placed in the machines. The machines can test for COVID-19, RSV, the flu, and strep.

“We’re doubling down to try and see all the patients coming through our doors,” Dr. Miller said.

The latest data from the Oregon Health Authority shows a 16% positivity rate for the flu and 25% for RSV in the state. Data also shows around this time of year, the positivity rate is typically half of that. The Washington State Department of Health said so far this season, seven people have died from the flu. The most Washington State usually sees this time in the season since 2014 is three. Dr. Miller said he’s concerned holiday travel and gatherings are going to push positive numbers up.

“This is the time of year to be extra vigilant, extra careful about wearing masks, taking time to get a flu shot if you haven’t done so already,” Dr. Miller said. “If you have symptoms, test early before going to those family gatherings. "