SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Summertime means tourism season, but it also means trauma season for emergency rooms.

ER wait times can be hours long and that was before COVID-19. However, a local clinic says its walk-in option could free up much-needed beds at places like Mercy and CoxHealth.

“Probably 2/3rds of our ER patients could probably be handled in an urgent care,” said Steve Edwards, president of CoxHealth. “And so the challenge is when that bed is being occupied by one patient in the ER, we lose that capacity.

As hospitals beg for more beds, smaller clinics in Springfield say their waiting rooms are safe and nearly empty.

“You’re not going to wait more than 45 minutes ever here,” said Amanda Goforth, supervisor of Faith Immediate Care & Occupational Medicine.

Faith Immediate care and Occupational Health Center can treat minor injuries and illnesses the same as an ER.

It’s just a lot quicker,” said Holly Springer. “You’re not in contact with a lot more people. You’ve got more one-on-one time with the provider versus going to the hospitals. You’re definitely not spending half a day at the ER.”

It will likely save you money too since the clinic doesn’t take insurance.

For immediate care, if you just want to be seen once, it’s $85,” said Springer.

You can also pay a monthly fee and a co-pay for a primary care doctor.

“So I don’t know if the pandemic- people don’t want to go to the ER because of the sick people or the wait times, which are ungodly, but we are seeing a lot more now,” said Springer.

So, as the pandemic rages on, hospitals like CoxHealth say they’ll benefit if people consider an alternative option.

“The challenge is when that bed is occupied by one patient, we lose that capacity,” said Edwards. “You know there are people that show up in our ER for dermatitis or skin issues or something that’s been escalating for three months. So, that’s why we have those other venues for them. We really would look to encourage urgent care and even telemedicine visits.”