Know When to Go to Your Family Doctor, the ER, Your Family Doctor, or Firelands Virtual Care

Injuries and illnesses are inevitable, especially during cold and flu season. You may be constantly on alert for the smallest symptoms – whether for yourself or a loved one. But when something flares up, how do you know if it’s serious enough to go straight to the emergency room, to the nearest urgent care, or to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider?

Knowing where to go when a health issue flares up can help prevent frustrations from long waits or being sent elsewhere, and it’ll get you the prompt treatment you’re looking for.

“It’s true that urgent care can usually offer the same type of care your family doctor can provide for acute issues like coughs, colds, and minor injuries,” said Dr. Matt Braniecki, DO, a family medicine doctor at Firelands Physician Group Port Clinton Family Medicine. “They can treat most non-life-threatening conditions, but chronic issues can’t be treated at urgent care. That’s why it’s important to know when to go to urgent care when you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.”

If it’s symptoms of a minor illness like migraine, sore throat, coughing, or congestion, try to get in with your doctor the same day, if you can. All Firelands Physician Group primary care providers, like Dr. Braniecki, offer same-day appointments for these instances. If your doctor isn’t available, urgent care is the next best option for non-emergencies.

If an in-person isn't right for your situation, you can always try Firelands Virtual Care, which is great to visit a provider right from the comfort of your own couch!

However, Dr. Braniecki stresses that urgent care should never replace your primary care provider.

“Your doctor should be a part of your overall health and wellness – whether you’re sick or not,” Dr. Braniecki said. “Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider ensures you have a partner in health who is looking out for you not just right now, but into the future.” You can even see most providers through Firelands Virtual Care.

Go to your primary care provider regularly so he/she can help with the following:

  • Monitor chronic conditions or risk factors leading to chronic illness
  • Track your blood pressure
  • Watch your weight
  • Make sure your immunizations are up to date
  • Discuss appropriate screenings for your age/gender and risk factors
  • Refill your prescriptions as appropriate

Firelands Physician Group Urgent Care in Sandusky and Clyde are best for when you need quick, convenient care, and when your primary care provider is unavailable.

When to Use Urgent Care

You may be surprised at what urgent care can treat. Firelands Physician Group Urgent Cares in Sandusky and Clyde both have imaging services, so they can treat sprains and strains that may require X-rays. They can even do sports physicals.

If you have one of the below conditions or symptoms, consider going to urgent care instead of to the nearest emergency room:

  • Asthma and wheezing
  • Burns
  • Ear infection
  • Fever
  • Insect bites
  • Minor lacerations (if you see bone or cut a tendon, head to the ER)
  • Rashes
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Urinary tract infection

Use urgent care when:

  • You need to be seen promptly by a healthcare provider
  • You are unable to get an appointment with your provider
  • It is after hours
  • You do not have a primary care provider

Will Urgent Care Turn You Away?

“Not usually”, says Stephanie Breault, Nurse Practitioner at Firelands Physician Group Urgent Care in Clyde. “It’s rare for us to turn patients away, but when we do it’s usually because we’re not equipped to handle the injury or illness they’re experiencing. If you have heart attack symptoms like chest pain, or stroke symptoms like sudden vision problems or trouble walking, we’ll send you to the nearest emergency room.”

She urges patients with these symptoms to go straight to the emergency room, rather than waste time (and waste heart muscle or brain tissue) by coming to urgent care.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Urgent care is perfect for treating conditions that can’t wait until tomorrow but aren’t life-threatening. Emergency rooms are for life-threatening situations. Emergency departments at hospitals will have more resources and specialists at their disposal.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Poisoning or suspected overdose
  • Seizure or loss of consciousness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe bleeding or head trauma
  • Severe headache
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Sudden weakness or tingling

It’s good to know you have options when a health problem comes up. Your Firelands Physician Group doctor is here for you with same-day appointments often available. Firelands Physician Group Urgent Care is great as well in the event that your primary care provider is not available. And if an emergency happens, you can count on the Level 3 trauma center open 24/7  at Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky to have the resources you need to get well.

The quickest way to get the healthcare you need is to choose the medical facility that fits the symptoms you’re experiencing.

If you have any questions, contact your primary care provider today.