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Clarion UPMC Urgent Care Prepares for Flu Season

Monday, October 22, 2018 @ 12:10 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Dr. BowserCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – “Sometimes it hits you like a Mack truck,” said Dr. Erin Bowser, of the Clarion UPMC Urgent Care, referring to flu symptoms for the upcoming flu season.

Dr. Bowser hasn’t seen too many cases yet, but UPMC Urgent Cares, Clarion – located at 18 Sportsman’s Drive on Route 68 near Clarion Walmart – is ready.

“Usually, the presenting symptoms are fever, generalized body aches, cough, and congestion,” Bowser explained. “We always wait to see the first few flu patients and then get a sense of it. To my knowledge, there isn’t anything different this year, and your body hurts, you’re very achy, and fevers are usually high (greater than 100.5). You just feel miserable.”

Dr. Bowser is a New Bethlehem native who serves as the medical director for UPMC Urgent Care in the Northern Tier that includes Clarion, Franklin, and Hermitage.

Like all of the UPMC Urgent Cares, Clarion is open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. seven days a week with no appointment necessary.

“Flu is a hectic time of year especially for urgent cares because of the primary care shortage. There are doctors overwhelmed, and that overflow sometimes flows to our urgent care which is spectacular because we would like to be busy. Flu season is a big time of year for us.”

“We haven’t seen an influx of flu patients, yet. I anticipate that’s coming. We try to get your flu shots in October – or November if all fails. Anytime during the flu season is great, but we like to get people immune to it before the flu season. Typically, you’ll see a huge change around the holidays, and kids go back to school. Visitors sometimes bring germs along with them that we haven’t seen in the community. Just get the vaccine.”

The vaccine works with the body’s own immune system to make antibodies against the flu virus.

“Side effects can be experienced such as a little achiness in the joints or at the flu shot site, but that’s your body making that response. We want that to happen.”

Bowser graduated from Redbank Valley High School growing up on a local dairy farm. She attended Duquesne and Pitt for undergrad premed and then went to Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school and trained at Clarion Hospital for residency and family practice.

“I worked in the ER in Punxsutawney for a couple of years right out of residency and then went into family medicine in Virginia.  I went to urgent care for a better lifestyle at UPMC, and when I had this opportunity in my hometown and why wouldn’t you come back? I love it.”

“The primary reason I came back was to help my dad on the farm. My grandpa had passed away, and my dad, Mike Minich, needs a little more help and I realized how much I miss working with him as well as in my hometown.”

Clarion is her homesite, but she travels to Franklin at least once a week and Hermitage several times a month.

UPMC Urgent Care provides an outstanding patient experience for their episodic health needs while facilitating emergent and semi-emergent follow up as clinically indicated.

“There’s a huge primary care shortage, and I know that because of being in primary care before this, and there’s just not enough spots and time today for those doctors to see the number of patients they have, especially when they’re sick and need something urgently, but they’re not really severe enough for the emergency department,” said Bowser.

“In emergency rooms, they’re swamped with things that maybe shouldn’t be there because they can’t get in to see the primary care, and they’re stuck.”

“That’s where we fit in to help ‘unstick’ you. We have the use of referrals that we can make, but if we genuinely think it is an emergency or you need that more urgent evaluation because we can’t do all of that here, we do send them to the emergency room. We have used consultation back up through UPMC that we can send patients to, and we have specialty care right across the hall to us. If someone needs that next day follow-up, we can do that.”

In addition to Dr. Bowser, UPMC also has a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant. Most insurances are accepted, and one-stop cash payments are also available.

“We saw a demand here when we opened earlier this year. We also noticed an influx of patients after the college began this year.”

“How long is the average length of stay here? Usually, it’s pretty quick, and the average time is 28 to 30 minutes. It may be longer or less, depending upon the time of the day and how many patients are here.”

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