10TV: What You Should Know Before Heading to Urgent Care Centers
According to the Urgent Care Association of America, there are an estimated 7,100 urgent care centers nationwide. These centers are filling a growing demand for care, as primary care physicians report seeing more patients in a short period of time – leaving less time for walk-ins.
But when care is needed quickly, how do you know whether to go to an urgent care center or an emergency department? And who will be treating you when you get there? 10TV reporter Tracy Townsend came to Glenn Williams, MD, Medical Director of OhioHealth Urgent Care, to get the answers to these important questions.
Know Before You Go
Dr. Williams advises patients to consider urgent care centers as an extension of their regular doctor’s office. These facilities can perform x-rays as well as treat minor injuries and illnesses like colds, the flu, wounds and sprains. For those who are experiencing a trauma, such as chest pain, a severe head injury, severe abdominal pain or another dangerous condition, it is recommended to go to the ER.
If an urgent care center is appropriate for your condition, you may be treated by a board certified family physician, emergency medical physician or internal medicine physician. They are also often staffed by physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners, who work under the supervision of a physician.
Lastly, it’s important to choose an urgent care center staffed with providers who are willing and able to work hand-in-hand with your primary care doctor. Parents should also make sure whether or not nearby facilities are comfortable and/or equipped to treat children.