ST. LOUIS – More people are making appointments with their doctor’s offices and urgent care locations in the St. Louis area because of the flu and other viruses that are spreading quickly this time of year.

Appointment slots fill up quickly with Total Access Urgent Care.

“We are definitely seeing numbers that we were seeing at the beginning of COVID with the viruses that are hitting this fall,” said Kelly Baynes, Total Access Urgent Care’s vice president of operations. “So, the que opens at 6 a.m. every morning and usually within 10 minutes, those initially time slots are taken.”

Baynes said the flu season hit earlier this year than in years past.

“We knew this flu season was coming eventually. It’s much higher than it has been since pre-COVID,” she said. “Everybody has been masking and some of those requirements have been a little bit more laxed [sic] this fall, and our immune systems are out of practice.”

Baynes said the positivity rate for the flu is nearly double what they’re seeing for COVID cases. Approximately 39% of patients are testing positive for the flu, while 14% are testing positive for COVID, she said.

“We try to see as many patients as we possibly can every day and we wish that we could see all of the patients that need to be seen, but unfortunately this has put a big strain on healthcare in general,” Baynes said.

She said offering EMT classes with tuition reimbursement is one of the ways Total Access is working to overcome the strain.

“We’ve had several graduating now, and they’re all out working in the community. Some of them have stayed at total access and are working trying to get all of those patients in and are working with us,” Baynes said.