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Helping You Choose The Right Care

Last updated: February 9, 2022

As our community faces this most recent COVID-19 surge in cases, hospitals are seeing a record-breaking number of people seeking care since the pandemic’s start. Although you will not be turned away when making a trip to the ER, it’s best to know if your concern or illness requires emergency care or if it’s better fit for a visit with your doctor or urgent care.  

Montgomery Elmer, MD, Chief Medical Officer at ThedaCare, says choosing the right option helps everyone get the care they need when they need it most. 

“Knowing when to talk to a doctor or go to your local urgent care instead of going to an ER can save you both time and money,” Dr. Elmer says. “Plus, when people use the right source for their care, our emergency teams have the time and focus to treat higher-level traumas and more severe conditions.”  

ThedaCare has developed this simple flow chart to help you better understand where to go if you have a medical condition or question. Here, you can see common sources of medical care — the emergency department, urgent care, virtual care, and primary care — and the common medical issues they are intended to treat. 

Your primary care provider: A primary care provider is a physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or physician assistant who provides, coordinates, or helps a patient access a range of health care services. They can address many health issues such as regular physical exams, minor illnesses, and screenings. Same-day appointments often are available for urgent illness. 

“Your primary care provider is the best choice for any non-emergency care,” Dr. Elmer says. “They can serve as a guide for your health. You can update them with any medical issues or concerns, ask questions, and consult with them as needed. They are there to help oversee and manage your day-to-day health needs.”  

If you’re looking for a primary care provider who is a good fit for you, check out the ThedaCare Provider Directory.  

Virtual care: Don’t want to leave home? No problem. With virtual health services, you can receive treatment for issues like cold/flu symptoms, rashes, pink eye, and headaches.  

“Setting up a virtual appointment is especially helpful if you have a question in the evening or over the weekend,” Dr. Elmer says.   

ThedaCare offers a variety of virtual care options to fit your needs. These include video visits with your preferred care provider and virtual urgent care visits with the first available provider. You can complete these visits through any web-enabled device with a camera — such as your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Through an eVisit, you can complete a simple questionnaire to get a custom treatment plan and care recommendations from an experienced ThedaCare provider. eVisit online care requests are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Requests made during standard operating hours (Monday–Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) will receive a response within two hours. Requests made outside of those hours will receive a response the next day. 

Urgent care: Dr. Elmer says urgent care is a good choice for immediate, onsite, non-emergency care. From simple broken bones to minor injuries, it’s usually faster and less costly than emergency care. You can consult with a medical provider about health issues that require an in-person physical exam. An appointment is not required. 

ThedaCare offers a variety of urgent care and walk-in services. They provide quick, easy access to treatment and diagnostic testing for minor injuries and conditions. You can find your nearest location here. In addition, using the ‘On My Way’ feature may help you reduce your wait time.

Emergency care: Go to an ER if you have a life-threatening emergency, says William Kumprey, MD, System Medical Director for Emergency Medicine. Seek emergency care for conditions like severe chest pain, severe burns, signs of a stroke, severe shortness of breath, or blue-colored lips/skin. At ThedaCare, our top priority is providing immediate care to the patients who need it most. Our hospitals are staffed 24/7 by full-time doctors and nurses who specialize in emergency medicine. We’re proud to offer you a full range of emergency care options and support.  

If you’d like to learn more about your care options, please visit thedacare.org/get-care-now.  

Tags: emergency care primary care same-day care ThedaCare Get Care Now urgent care virtual care walk-in care

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