For patients who do not have a primary care physician or who experience illness or injury on a weekend, in the evening or on a holiday, a trip to the local emergency department might seem like the only choice. Sometimes it is, especially when the injury is life-threatening.
However, for many patients Lee Health’s Convenient Care is a better option. You can walk into a Convenient Care without making an appointment and receive quality health care by medical professionals usually at a lower cost and in less time. “If you’re not feeling well, the first call you should make is to your primary care physician,” said Debra Hanna, a Convenient Care nurse with Lee Health. “We would like patients to use Convenient Care for things that might not be appropriate for the emergency room, so something like the flu or a sprain.” If it’s after hours at your primary care physician’s office or if the symptoms come on suddenly, you should seek out an urgent care facility.
“If it’s a life threatening emergency or a very serious illness, you’re going to go to the emergency room,” Hanna said. For patients experiencing symptoms like an ear infection or sore throat, it’s better to go to Convenient Care instead of an emergency room.
All Convenient Care facilities are equipped with laboratory services, x-rays and physicians that are available on the weekends.
“If a patient goes to an urgent care, we have health experts that can assess them when they arrive to determine if they need to be moved to a hospital. That happens quite a bit, actually, but it’s ok because we will make the decision on whether you need to be transferred to the emergency room,” Hanna said.
The emergency department is the right choice for the following conditions:
- Chest pain, pressure or discomfort and symptoms of a heart attack (arm, neck, jaw or back pain; dizziness; nausea; sweating; difficulty breathing and/or fatigue, particularly in women)
- Stroke symptoms (loss of vision, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech or confusion)
- Head trauma (loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, mental status changes)
- Serious neck or back injuries
- Severe difficulty with breathing and/or abdominal pain
- Gunshot and knife wounds
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Any injury where a bone is protruding
- Fever in babies younger than 3 months of age
- Pregnancy related issues
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings and panic attacks
Other injuries or conditions are less serious and are better served by Convenient Care. Lee Health has three locations open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., 7 days a week.
Conditions treated at Convenient Care include:
- Flu symptoms
- Ear pain
- Eye injury or irritation
- Minor breathing difficulty such as asthma complications
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Urinary tract infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases and minor female vaginal complaints
- Minor burns
- Cuts and infections
- Allergic reactions
- Sprains and strains
- Minor broken bones
- Back pain
- Animal bites
If you are unsure where you should go, you can call one of the locations and ask. “We have triage nurses who can kind of assess where patients need to go. Ask them whether it’s more appropriate for you to go to Convenient Care or the emergency room,” said Hanna.