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How urgent is it?

Published on September 02, 2015

How urgent is it?

Penelope Smith, MD

If your provider is unavailable, we will do what we can in the Urgency Center.Many people wonder when to use the Urgency Center vs. the Emergency Room. We always encourage you to contact your primary care provider who is your best resource for ongoing care of a known medical condition, as well as being able to help you with a new problem. If your provider is unavailable, we will do what we can in the Urgency Center to care for you until you can follow up with your usual provider. We can diagnose and treat any new condition, but there are some limitations to what we can and should do in the Urgency Center setting.

When to go to the Emergency Room:

  1. You think you might be having a heart attack or stroke.
  2. You have severe pain.
  3. You have a severe injury.
  4. You are more than 20 weeks pregnant with any problem that may be related to pregnancy (pain, bleeding, cramping).

When to go to your primary health care provider:

  1. Your medical problem is an ongoing issue — not new.
  2. You need a refill of medication.
  3. You have chronic pain that is not improving or is uncontrolled.
  4. You think you need an MRI (we do not have that available in the Urgency Center).

When to go to the Urgency Center:

  1. You have a new illness — from sore throats to abdominal pain. We will see all sorts of new concerns.
  2. You have a migraine that is not responding to at home medication — please be aware that the recommended treatment for acute migraine does not include narcotic pain medication, but does include IV medications that will decrease pain associated with migraine.
  3. You have an injury and question — is it broken? Do I need stitches? Is it OK to work?
  4. You are less than 20 weeks pregnant and may have a problem related to pregnancy.

Hopefully, you and your family stay well. My staff and I are ready and waiting to serve you when you need us.

Urgency Center

The CentraCare Urgency Center is a great alternative to care after hours and now can provide care for you and your family before 5 p.m. on weekdays as well. The Urgency Center is open from 2:30-10 p.m. Monday through Friday. The weekend and holiday hours from noon to 8 p.m. remain the same. The Urgency Center is in the lower level of the CentraCare Health Plaza. Use the Woodlands entrance and take the elevator down.

Health information accessed through is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Penelope Smith, MD

Penelope Smith, MD
CentraCare Clinic - Health Plaza Family Medicine

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