How to Know Where to Go: Helping You Choose the Right Care
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 actually requires emergency care or if it is better fit for a visit with your doctor or urgent care.
Montgomery Elmer, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at ThedaCare, says choosing the right care option helps everyone get the help 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,” he explains. “Plus, when people use the right source for their care then 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 visit, and primary care provider—and the common medical issues they are intended to treat.
Your primary care provider: A primary care provider is defined by HealthCare.gov as 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 help with many health issues such as regular physical exams, minor illnesses, and screenings. Same-day appointments are often available for urgent illness.
“Your primary care provider is the best choice for any non-emergency care,” says Dr. Elmer. “They can help to 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 are looking for a primary care provider that is a good fit for you, then check out the ThedaCare Provider Directory.
Virtual care: Don’t want to leave home? No problem. With virtual health services, you can be treated for issues like cold/flu symptoms, rashes, pink eye, headaches, and more.
“Setting up a virtual appointment is especially helpful if you have a question in the evening or over the weekend,” says Dr. Elmer.
At ThedaCare, we offer different types of virtual care options to fit your needs. This includes virtual video visits with your preferred care provider or virtual urgent care visits with a first available provider. These visits can be made through any web-enabled device with a camera—such as your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Plus, through our eVisit service, you can take 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., Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) will receive a response within 2 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 on-site non-emergency care. From simple broken bones to minor injuries, it is usually much faster and costs less money out-of-pocket than emergency care. You can consult with a first available medical provider about health issues that require an in-person physical exam. An appointment is not required.
ThedaCare has a variety of urgent care and walk-in services available to provide quick, easy access to treatment and diagnostic testing for minor injuries and conditions. You can find your nearest location here.
Emergency care: You should go to an ER if you have a life-threatening emergency, says William Kumprey, M.D., System Medical Director for Emergency Medicine. Medical issues like severe chest pain, severe burns, signs of a stroke, severe shortness of breath, or blue-colored lips/skin should be seen by a medical provider quickly. 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 are proud to offer you a full range of emergency care options and support.
If you would like to learn more about your care options, please visit www.thedacare.org/get-care-now.