Harder to get to see the family doctor during holidays

Barbara Hootman

Getting a same-day appointment with a doctor during the holidays can be difficult. Many offices will be closed News Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to give staff time off with their families.

Trish Morris works at the front desk and in the insurance department in Dr. Robert Uhren’s office on Old U.S. 70. She said every effort is made to get regular patients seen as soon as possible.

“If we can’t see someone as quick as they think they need to be seen then we refer them to one of the urgent care facilities in Asheville,” she said. “During the holidays it isn’t unusual for us to double-book Dr. Uhren and our (physician’s assistant), James Weegar. Normally we book patients every 15 minutes, but when we double-book, we schedule two patients to be seen in the 15-minute timeframe.”

Morris said the best advice she has for a sick person seeking an appointment is not to wait and see how much sicker they will get. Most doctors in the Black Mountain area close on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Monday can be a more difficult day to get an appointment with a doctor because so many people procrastinate over the weekend and then call for an appointment Monday morning.

“Sick children and the elderly get attention as quickly as we possibly can give it,” Morris said. “Their conditions are prone to change more quickly than others. If we can’t see them quickly, we refer them to one of the urgent care centers or the emergency room at the hospital.”

Dr. Drew Schnyder at FamilyCare Home of Black Mountain and Old Fort said he is seeing the same number of patients now that he was before the holidays. Which makes giving his staff time off easier.

“We try to give our employees at least a full day off during this time of the year,” he said. “It has been surprisingly not so busy the last few days, but we are seeing some upper respiratory problems. We make every effort to see anyone that thinks they need to see a doctor.”

The practice also has an answering service that sends send a text to doctors after hours.


Parkway Medical Group in Black Mountain also reported seeing more people with upper respiratory problems, which are common this time of the year.

According to Victoria Dunkle, the group’s communications director, established patients needing a same day doctor’s visit are accommodated if possible. If it isn’t possible to see them, they are referred to one of the local urgent care facilities. Usually Parkway Medical does not refer patients to the hospital emergency room unless it is a true emergency.

Dunkle said it is important to remember that same-day sick visits are reserved for established patients. If you have visiting family and friends during the holidays and they become ill, they will need to be seen at an urgent care facility. Most providers are booked several weeks out for new patients.

Urgent care facilities in Asheville

FastMed Urgent Care, 160 Hendersonville Road, 210-2835

FastMed Urgent Care, 511 Smoky Park Highway, 365-1088

Sisters of Mercy Urgent Care, 1201 Patton Ave., 252-4878

Sisters of Mercy Urgent Care, 1833 Hendersonville Road, 274-1462