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TMCNet:  ER or Urgent Care? That's the question

[February 01, 2013]

ER or Urgent Care? That's the question

Feb 01, 2013 (The Sampson Independent - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Clinton Urgent Care is the place to go with minor health problems, including flu-like symptoms, minor cuts and fractures, mild burns, sprains, and allergic reactions. (Courtesy photo) Clinton Urgent Care is the place to go with minor health problems, including flu-like symptoms, minor cuts and fractures, mild burns, sprains, and allergic reactions. (Courtesy photo) slideshow The emergency room at Sampson Regional Medical Center provides help primarily for those with serious and life-threatening conditions who need immediate medical attention. Patients experiencing severe pain or bleeding, pregnancy related problems, seizures, major trauma, or signs of a stroke or a heart attack take priority over those with more minor issues. (Courtesy photo) The emergency room at Sampson Regional Medical Center provides help primarily for those with serious and life-threatening conditions who need immediate medical attention. Patients experiencing severe pain or bleeding, pregnancy related problems, seizures, major trauma, or signs of a stroke or a heart attack take priority over those with more minor issues. (Courtesy photo) slideshow When a person is in need of medical attention, both Clinton Urgent Care and Sampson Regional Medical Center's Emergency Room offer help in times of emergency and in times when primary care doctors are unavailable. However, how does one choose between these two options It is important to know the similarities and differences between the two facilities because knowing where to go and when can potentially save time and money.

According to information provided by the hospital, the Emergency Room is primarily for people experiencing serious or life-threatening health problems. Health issues that fall into this category include poisoning, severe pain or bleeding, problems related to pregnancy, asthma attacks, seizures, and signs of a stroke or a heart attack. Patients with these health issues require immediate medical attention, and therefore take priority over patients with less severe problems.

For those with minor health problems, Urgent Care is usually the quicker, more efficient place to seek medical help. Urgent Care is equipped to handle numerous minor health problems, such as flu-like symptoms, minor cuts and fractures, sprains, mild burns, allergic reactions, and urinary tract infections.

"If you cut your finger while working in the yard, we can take care of that easily. However, if you cut your leg with a chainsaw, that's a little more than we can handle," says Jennifer Coble, Director of Practice Management at Clinton Urgent Care.

In addition to the different types of health issues each facility specializes in treating, there can also be some differences in cost and billing.

"Urgent Care and the hospital's Emergency Room do follow the same protocols," says Coble. "If you have private health insurance, your insurance card will have on it the amount you have to pay when you visit us or the ER. However, if you have no insurance or have a very high deductible, there is a 25% discount offered if you can pay at the time of service." "The differences come in other ways," notes Coble. "At the ER, patients receive a bill from the physician and a bill from the facility. At Urgent Care, there's just one bill and one co-pay." Both facilities provide medical services to all people, regardless of their ability to pay.

"At Urgent Care, we do work with people who have no pay source," explains Coble. "We will anticipate the amount of their bill and then work with them to set up a payment arrangement, one that is realistic for both the patient and us. We usually try to have the payments finished in six to eight months." Noting that "we're open seven days a week," Coble encourages people to seek medical help for minor injuries and health problems at Urgent Care, but she also wants the public to know of other options.

"Really, the most cost effective option is seeing your primary care physician (PCP). We call it having a medical home, and we give people the opportunity to establish that at Sampson Internal Medicine if they do not already have a doctor that they regularly see," says Coble. "For chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, it's better and more efficient from that to be checked and monitored by a PCP." For more information about Clinton Urgent Care services, call 592-9113.

For more information about SRMC's ER services, call 592-8511, ext. 8706.

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.

___ (c)2013 The Sampson Independent (Clinton, N.C.) Visit The Sampson Independent (Clinton, N.C.) at www.clintonnc.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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