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For Fast Care, It Helps to Know Where to Go

Published: 02/19/19

When illness or injury strikes, you may need to make a quick decision about where to seek medical care – especially if it’s during a time when your regular doctor is unavailable. It can be tempting to go to the emergency room (ER), but depending on the nature of the ailment, you may not get the fastest care there. 

The ER offers life-saving care for true emergencies – those that could be fatal if not treated right away.  

At the ER, doctors and staff must prioritize life-threatening situations, such as heart attacks or injuries from serious accidents. Which means patients with less serious ailments, such as sprains or strains or minor cuts, for example, may wait hours to a see a doctor in the ER. And health plans often charge a higher co-pay for ER services. 

Fortunately, there’s another option: Meadows Health Immediate Care. Our immediate care clinic is open every day to treat patients ages 6 months and older who need fast care for illnesses and injuries that aren’t life-threatening. No appointment is necessary, and wait times are minimized. 

When Is Immediate Care Appropriate? 

Immediate care is an appropriate choice for illnesses or injuries you might see your regular family doctor for, if there were time to make an appointment. Examples include colds and flu, nausea and vomiting, minor cuts and burns, earaches and urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

Immediate care providers can treat these types of minor ailments on a walk-in basis and can refer you to specialists or a general practitioner for follow-up care, if needed.  

When Is the ER Appropriate? 

Of course, there are times when a trip to the ER is warranted, which is why it’s so important to know the signs of a true emergency. The American College of Emergency Physicians lists the following as examples of a medical emergency. Call 911 or go to the ER for: 

  • Bleeding that won’t stop 
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Change in mental status – unusual behavior, confusion or difficulty waking 
  • Chest pain 
  • Choking 
  • Coughing or vomiting blood 
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness 
  • Feelings of committing suicide or murder 
  • Head or spine injury 
  • Severe or persistent vomiting 
  • Sudden injury due to a car accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or large wound, or other injury 
  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body 
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision 
  • Swallowing a poisonous substance 
  • Severe abdominal pain or pressure 

The emergency department at Meadows Health is specially equipped to offer state-of-the-art treatment of these and other medical emergencies.