Jun 24, 2015

Posted by in Emergency, Family Practice, General, Internal Medicine | 0 Comments

Extended Clinic Hours vs. Emergency Room – What’s the Difference?

Extended Hours vs EDYou pick up your child from daycare and you’re instantly concerned. Something about the way she looks makes you think… uh oh, she’s sick. Now what?! I’ve had to deal with this more times than I appreciate and it just never gets easier to figure out what to do.

Luckily, Pella Regional Health Center has made some changes over the last year to create more access to primary care.

So, where should you go: to Pella Medical Clinic’s extended hours before they close at 7 pm or to the emergency room?

Pella Medical Clinic from 5-7 pm for weekdays and 8 am – Noon on Saturday
This service is designed to provide medical care for illnesses such as sore throats, ear infections, injuries, etc. You may see a physician or you may see a mid-level provider who provides primary care. These visits are not meant to be used as a substitute for seeing your regular doctor and it is also not the appropriate time for routine immunizations, to refill medications or for visits about ongoing problems.

Which Option is Best?
Think of it this way: if you or your child has a problem that you would normally go to your regular doctor for, it is something that can be seen during our extended hours. If it’s a bigger problem or something you shouldn’t wait for AT ALL, then Emergency is the place to go.

The American College of Emergency Physicians and the doctors of Pella Regional offer these general guidelines for these symptoms that are considered emergencies:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Any sudden, severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unusual abdominal pain

Some conditions that generally don’t call for an Emergency visit, and can be handled in the clinic setting are:

  • Earaches
  • Minor cuts in which bleeding has stopped
  • A sprain, rash or minor sunburn
  • An insect sting (unless there is shortness of breath—then go to the Emergency Department or call 911)
  • Fever (unless there are convulsions—then go to the Emergency Department)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Colds, coughs and sore throats

What if Pella Medical Clinic is closed?
Ask yourself this question: what is the worst thing that will happen if I wait until tomorrow? It is very tempting to go to Emergency for a suspected ear infection with your fussy baby, but that isn’t truly an emergency. The pain can be managed with aspirin and ibuprofen, and the one or two extra doses of antibiotics your baby would have received won’t make that much difference in how fast he or she gets better. If your child has difficulty breathing, that is absolutely a reason to go to Emergency in the middle of the night.

24/7 Nurseline
Another resource that is available to help Pella Regional patients who have a medical chart with our hospital or family of clinics decide where to go is our 24/7 Nurseline. Our registered nurses will ask you questions about what is going on with you or your child and help you decide how soon a particular problem should be seen. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 641-621-2200.

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