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How urgent is it?

Published in Inside CentraCare, For the Health of It Author: Penelope Smith, MD

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.