ST. LOUIS – Multiple urgent care facilities spanning downtown St. Louis to St. Peters have locked doors, and it may have to do with people leaving the healthcare industry.
Tonya Graham has walked Olive Street during her lunch hour for the last week. She passes by a closed-up urgent care.
“It was tiresome,” Graham said. “It was wear and tear on my body.”
Graham just left the medical field after 25 years as a medical assistant.
“I want to do something where I don’t have to be on my feet all the time,” Graham said.
She said the pandemic was a driving force behind her exit.
“Watching sick people go through stuff. You meet people, you help them with stuff, the next minute they’re sick – a lot of it is due to COVID,” Graham said.
Graham is not the only one. There’s a mass exodus of people leaving the medical field.
The FOX Files confirms at least seven different urgent care locations, spanning two different companies, have temporarily closed due to a staffing shortage.
Total Access Urgent Care Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations Kelly Baynes confirmed they have five locations temporarily closed but plan to reopen all of them once they’re back to appropriate staffing levels.
“This is a problem for people. They do not have access to healthcare,” Baynes said.
Baynes said the staffing shortage is a problem across the country.
“We’ve spent the majority of our summer working on hiring and training so we can increase the amount of team members,” she said.
Baynes said Total Access recently launched an EMT class to help people get into the healthcare industry.
The other two urgent cares that have locked doors are owned by 24/7 Urgent Care. The Creve Coeur location has no message on the front door, but there’s still furniture inside. The downtown location has a sign stating it’s temporarily closed due to a staffing shortage.
By the end of 2023, Total Access hopes to reopen the Ellisville location.
For Graham, leaving the healthcare industry was a no-brainer.
“I have my own space. I don’t have to worry about wiping down after people. I’m by myself, basically. I don’t have to be around sick people a lot,” Graham said.
Even though it’s a hit on her retirement, she said she has no regrets about leaving the medical field.
“I have a granddaughter too. I want to be around and play and have fun with her instead of being stressed out all the time,” Graham said.
The FOX Files reached out to 24/7 Urgent Care, located downtown and Creve Coeur, for comment but did not hear back.