What's Your Emergency?
A gash in the leg will be evaluated and treated differently than severe chest pains. Both may feel like a medical emergency at the time, but understanding where to go for the particular medical situation will be crucial to the care received. Baptist Health Care offers options that include hospital-based emergency rooms (ER), urgent care centers, walk-in clinics and physician offices. Understanding the core differences can help with making an informed health decision when an emergency arises. Remember that some medical conditions are time critical, so seeking care at the most appropriate place first is extremely important.
Hospital ERs, like Baptist, Gulf Breeze and Jay hospitals, have 24-hour medical care year round. ERs are designed to treat the most critical patients first – those with lifethreatening injuries or illnesses, such as heart attacks, strokes and accidents. ERs use a triage system to evaluate patient situations and place the most severe cases first. People with less threatening conditions may find themselves waiting longer periods to be seen since it’s not a first-come, first-served process. ERs are not designed to treat routine illnesses, like colds and coughs, or provide follow-up care. They are in place to offer more comprehensive services, and are staffed with specialized physicians and nurses who are highly trained in dealing with emergencies. Since it may be difficult for patients to know the severity of their situation, the ER will determine that and triage care accordingly.
Urgent care centers, like Baptist Urgent Care – Airport and Baptist Urgent Care – Nine Mile, are available for prompt care of minor illnesses and injuries. This could include cuts, broken bones, allergic reactions, burns, flu symptoms, animal bites and more. Baptist urgent care centers see patients on a first-come, first-served basis as triage allows. Typically there is at least one medical doctor on site in the clinic, or on call if needed. They offer extended hours to fit a busy schedule and offer care seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Baptist Urgent Care – Airport is also open on all major holidays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At Baptist urgent care centers, there are two options for a patient to make an appointment – online at EasySchedule.com or callahead care at 850.208.6130. If a person visits Baptist Urgent Care with a serious, life-threatening condition, the attending provider can make an ER referral for the individual and help transfer them to the closest or preferred hospital ER. Baptist Urgent Care locations do not have the capabilities to adequately treat life threatening injuries or illness like the ER can other than initial assessment and triage treatment.
Baptist Walk-in Care is offered in Pensacola, Pace and Navarre. Walk-in clinics differ from urgent care because providers there typically treat more common illnesses like sore throat, cough, sprains, bruises, mild fevers, skin rashes, seasonal allergies and more. Individuals can walk in and expect to see a health care provider that same day without an appointment, but it may not be as quickly as an urgent care center. Walk-in care is designed to be convenient, affordable and efficient. These clinics are most often staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Typically walk-in care focuses on cases that require less advanced medical attention needed than urgent care centers. If you want to visit a walk-in care clinic for a same-day appointment, use EasySchedule.com to find available times and book the availability that meets your needs.
Primary Care Physician
If the medical situation is non-life threatening, the first call a patient can make should be to his or her primary care physician (PCP). Having a PCP helps individuals establish a medical home where wellness and medical history can be recorded and monitored. This is a proactive approach to health rather than waiting or reacting to a dire medical need. The best time to look for a PCP is when you don’t need one. Baptist offers EasySchedule.com to help people find one of our more than 200 specialized, convenient providers throughout Northwest Florida. If a PCP is not available when needed, that’s when a phone call or visit to a walk-in care or an urgent care center may be necessary. Baptist Urgent Care clinics can also assist with finding a PCP upon completion of an urgent care visit if the patient wants help finding one.
“At Baptist Health Care, we all work together to provide the best possible care to the patients we see, whether we meet them in the ER, urgent care center or a primary care physician’s office,” said Drew Stringfellow, service line director of primary care, urgent care and emergency care. “We offer multiple ways to receive care and convenient locations to help you choose what works best for you.”
The next time you’re faced with an emergency situation, ask if it’s life-threatening or if it warrants a visit to an urgent care center or same-day walk-in clinic. Establish a relationship with a PCP to help you make ongoing sound health and wellness decisions if and when a serious illness or injury may occur.