WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — UnityPoint on Monday announced that its urgent care clinics will be on an appointment-only basis due to a rise in patients.

The flu, COVID-19, and RSV have pushed a surge of people coming into walk-in clinics.

“We have been watching volumes increase steadily in our urgent care and express locations over the last several weeks,” said Dr. Patricia Newland, the President & CEO of UnityPoint Clinic. “We have been trying to balance keeping patients as safe as possible by not having them wait for prolonged periods in crowded waiting rooms. And also, the wellbeing of our teams who are just trying to get through a much higher demand right now.”

Dr. Newland stressed that this was a temporary measure, but she was not sure when walk-ins would be allowed again. She also added that if anyone needs severe medical treatment that the clinics will still take walk-ins. The behavioral health clinic will still keep accepting walk-ins as well.

UnityPoint wants people who are seriously ill to schedule appointments at these urgent care facilities.

“We encourage those who have mild illness that can be managed at home with symptomatic care to go ahead and do that,” said Newland. “We want to be able to accommodate those who have more significant illnesses.”

Newland added that with all three of the viruses going around, this is the busiest she has seen these urgent care clinics.

One mother in the metro experienced trouble with online appointment scheduling before UnityPoint went to appointment only.

Last Friday, Jenni VandDeVoorde took her sick 19-year-old daughter to a scheduled appointment at a UnityPoint express clinic.

“The time was 4:15 p.m. so we got there around 4 and around that time they said that they were running about 2 hours behind, but that we could leave and come back around 6,” said VanDeVoorde. “Went back in a little bit before 6 and checked back in, and they said that there is still some people ahead of us, but hopefully it won’t be too long. We ended up sitting in the waiting room until almost 7:30 until she could be seen, and that last hour and a half in the waiting room is what really frustrated me about the process.”

Thankfully, VandeVoorde’s daughter is okay, and she added that the staff was super polite and apologetic.

Newland said that the appointment-only system is set up to avoid these types of scenarios.