Neighborhood health clinic

Many people choose to go to a hospital emergency room rather than a medical walk in clinic when they become ill or are injured. In general, the choice to go to a hospital emergency room, as opposed to a medical walk in clinic, will depend on the seriousness of the medical situation.

There are many instances, however, when a medical walk in clinic can provide what a person needs with less waiting time and at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, there are obvious benefits to having a regular care provider rather than seeing an unfamiliar doctor or other type of medical practitioner.

Emergency wait time increased between the years of 2003-to-2009, rising from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. Current wait times vary from hospital-to-hospital; however, when the situation needs immediate attention or is life-threatening, the wait time may be less.

The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reported that on average, each visit to the emergency room can cost $1,318. While some medical insurance will cover these types of visits, when someone doesn’t have insurance, this can be financially devastating.

There are, for example, community health clinics that can provide treatment for elderly relatives or spouses experiencing some type of memory loss and dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Approximately one in 20 adults over the age of 65 suffer with these conditions, which are best handled with a regular primary care physician.

Depression ranges from 3%-to-13.5% within the elderly population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When an elderly family member or friend is in immediate danger to themselves or others, then they would need to be admitted for a psychiatric evaluation.

When people suffer from depression and are taking medication, having a regular mental health professional that is aware of their condition makes more sense. If a clinic doesn’t have a resident psychiatrist, then the physician on staff can ask for a consultation or make a referral. When medications need adjusting on an urgent basis, having a primary care physician and psychiatrist can expedite this process.

Choosing to have a primary care physician located at a regular health clinic presents an opportunity to develop a long-term relationship. When someone goes to the emergency room on a frequent basis, they have no control over which doctor or other medical professional will be treating them.

Another issue that doesn’t necessitate a hospital emergency room visit, unless there are extenuating circumstances, is for STD testing. There are STD testing centers that can provide confidential as well as anonymous STD testing. In some cases, these tests can be taken at home.

When deciding between going to a hospital emergency room or a walk in health clinic, it’s important to take a moment to consider all of the factors involved. Is the situation life-threatening? If not, then going to a walk in clinic, even after hours, may be the best course of action.