ED, PCP, or UC? How do you know which is the right choice?
Among the most frequent calls, we get at Ammonoosuc Community Health Services (ACHS) are questions about whether to go to the hospital or wait to see a primary care provider. How do you know if what you are feeling or experiencing is a true emergency? It can be hard to determine, especially when you don’t feel well. At ACHS, we advise patients to go to the closest hospital Emergency Department (ED), or dial 9-1-1 if they have any of the following conditions:
- Persistent chest pain not related to cold or flu symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Major allergic reaction
- Seizures or loss of consciousness
- Severe bleeding
- Weakness, facial drooping, or slurred speech
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Broken limbs or eye trauma
These issues should be seen by emergency personnel as soon as possible. But what about other health concerns? Can you wait until your primary care provider’s office is open and an appointment is available? Or should you find a local urgent care clinic? Some ailments, while
uncomfortable, can wait and you may benefit from having time to discuss your concerns in detail with someone who knows your complete medical history. Together, with your provider, you can develop a plan for the best course of action and find the treatments that are best for your short- and long-term care. See your primary care provider for non-emergency concerns such as:
- Back pain or joint pain (new or chronic)
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Cold symptoms (cough, sore throat)
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Rashes, minor burns
If you can’t wait for your primary care provider’s business hours and need immediate relief or treatment, then you should seek out a local urgent care center. Many urgent care centers have a late night and weekend hours. Just be sure to follow up with your primary care provider on urgent care visits or any trips to the ED, so they can add this history to your ongoing medical records. Believe it or not, that trip to urgent care for nausea may be important to your future health – especially if you have chronic medical conditions.
Ammonoosuc Community Health Services provides integrated Primary Care, Behavioral Health, and support services to nearly 10,000 patients in northern New Hampshire. At our five care-delivery sites – Franconia, Littleton, Warren, Whitefield, and Woodsville – we serve residents of over 26 area towns. For more information on our programs and services visit Ammonoosuc.org.