Urgent care centers are a unique presence in the American healthcare system for a number of reasons. Designed to treat a variety non-life-threatening conditions, these medical walk in clinics are often open 24 hours or offer after hours urgent care to help service those who cannot make it to the doctor during normal business hours. They are also famously cost-effective, with studies showing that an estimated 35% of emergency room visits in the United States could have been resolved faster and more affordably at an urgent care center. As a result, studies now show that there are around 160 million visits to urgent care facilities in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, as these clinics grow more popular, a specific type of crime is increasing as well: a number of people are now trying to burglarize their local urgent care centers.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, April 25, police in Stockton, CA arrested a man after he entered the area's urgent care center, Channel Medical Clinic. The man, who appeared to be under the influence, was reportedly acting erratic when he first entered the clinic. He then proceeded to search through the personal belongings of several employees and attempted to gain access to a refrigerator holding drugs. As his behavior grew increasingly unpredictable, the urgent care center's staff evacuated the building and called the police, who arrested the suspect. While authorities have not released his name or the charges surrounding his arrest, police have commented that they believe he was searching for drugs.
Cases like these highlight two common problems facing the U.S. today: the prevalence of the drug epidemic and a misunderstanding of the services urgent care centers provide. While drug abuse is often portrayed as a social or moral failure, the truth is that addiction is an illness that can cause people to take drastic action to fulfill their needs. However, because urgent care centers are designed to treat non-life-threatening conditions, they are unlikely sources for the types of medication that could cause intoxication. They are also not intended to treat serious issues like addiction. As a result, experts encourage anyone with an ongoing history of drug abuse to seek help from rehabilitation resources in their area before serious consequences take effect.