DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Edward Brooks, a normal patient at the southern clinic, has been having a sinus problem for a week — which alerted him to visit his doctor’s office to get tested for COVID-19 after he had it last year.
“I’ve been waiting approximately a hour my appointment was at 2;50 and it’s bout an hour later now,” Brooks said.
With the uptick in COVID-19 cases, mainly driven by the omicron variant, doctor offices are becoming overwhelmed with the vast number of patients coming through their doors.
“Before Omicron we were seeing 500 to 525 a day and now it’s over 600 a day,” Dr. Buddy Stokes said.
Last week, the Southern Clinic reached a peak when they tested 125 people in one week.
“Its gotten to where our turnaround has gotten a little slower the test itself usually takes about half an hour to result but we have so many running that its two hours to get a result back,” Dr. Stokes said.
Another reason contributing to the delay is a problem many businesses are facing — understaffing. The Southern Clinic is a huge doctor’s office with almost 70 employees but 7 to 10 of them are out nearly every day.
The inconvenience is affecting other medical procedures.
“One area that it also hurt us is referrals typically we will have people come in to do a sleep study it would be about a month,” He said.
Dr. Stokes said most of the patients have been understanding during this challenging time as a lot of them have been through it.
“I’m a patient person some people are worse off than me some can handle it and some can’t,” Brooks said.
And now with the government providing a free test to U.S. Citizens, he hopes the rush will slow down.
“There are still some other issues with that making sure the people are doing the test properly at home and just because you get a negative test at home don’t mean it’s a true negative it could be inappropriate samples,” Dr. Stokes said.