These days, it’s often not a matter of receiving care. It’s about finding the right place to get the care you need. Understanding the types of healthcare available to you will help you expedite care so your illness doesn’t get worse while also ensuring you don’t pay more than you should for treatment.
Here are the most common places people go to receive care:
- Primary Care Physician – Along with providing an annual exam, primary care physicians are available to help answer questions and provide care and treatment for non-emergent conditions. For example, your doctor can provide treatment for minor colds or flu and help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes. He or she is your first line into the healthcare system, and it is best if you can see a primary care physician before opting for other types of care.
- Walk-In Clinic – When you need quick care for minor illnesses or injuries, a walk-in clinic is a good place to go. In addition, walk-in clinics can sometimes provide health screenings and immunizations. A common reason for opting to visit a walk-in clinic over seeing a primary care physician is convenience. Unlike most primary care physicians, walk-in clinics may offer evening and/or weekend hours. Appointments are not needed.
- Immediate Care Center – These facilities provide advanced care fast. They are staffed by board-certified physicians and mid-level providers, such as APNs (advanced practice nurses). Immediate Care Centers provide advanced treatment for moderate illnesses and injuries – for example, sprains, broken bones, cuts needing stitches, and illnesses causing dehydration. They also offer bedside lab tests with quick results should a condition warrant it. These centers are usually open seven days a week, including holidays.
- Emergency Room – This is the place to go with serious or life-threatening illnesses and injuries. If you have symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, unusual headaches, neurological symptoms, uncontrolled heavy bleeding, severe abdominal pain, head trauma or a severe fracture, you need to visit the ER.
It’s sometimes difficult to discern between emergent and non-emergent symptoms. If you end up in the wrong place, practitioners can still triage you and send you to the place that’s most appropriate for you. For example, if you visit an Immediate Care Center with abdominal pain that turns out to be appendicitis instead of a stomach bug, they can send you to the emergency room. However, if you’re experiencing unusual symptoms or are unsure where to go, the emergency room may be the right place to start. If you’re experiencing chest pain or other potentially life-threatening symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
To find a primary care physician, Walk-In Clinic, Immediate Care Center or emergency room near you, visit our website.