Eye on Health: Emergency room vs. Urgent care

Emergency Room (MGN)

Recognizing the differences between an Emergency Room and Urgent Care can be confusing, especially when you have a medical problem that needs immediate attention.

Urgent care clinics try to fill a need and take the burden off of ERs. IU Health Goshen has a brand new Urgent care center, the first one in Goshen, and they're getting the word out about the difference between an ER and Urgent Care.

"A lot of time people are sick and they go to the emergency room and it's a four hour wait because they are going to take the trauma's first," said Dr. Jeff Eck.

"I think people need to consider if they are having a life threatening emergency and life threatening emergencies should immediately go to the emergency room," said Laura Wheeler, RN, DNP, FNP-BC.

The clinic has been open for three weeks now and already seeing people with fractures, lacerations, abdominal pain, headaches and upper respiratory infections.

"With all the primary care doctors we're able to handle their overflow. After hours, weekends, holidays. Then we're on their electronic medical record and they can go in and see what we did and what the follow up to be," said Dr. Eck.

The clinic includes lab services, x-ray services, and new technology like a video board. It helps assist medical personnel in helping explain what is exactly wrong with a patient.

"For instance, if they have a fractured femur I can pull up the leg and scale all the way down to the femur and draw a picture to show them exactly where the fracture is," said Laura Wheeler.

Wheeler says emergency room wait times are long; bills are high, so if it's not a life threatening matter urgent care might be the best option.

"My goal is one hour door to door. It doesn't always happen but that's what we strive for," she said.

Medical professionals say your primary doctor is the best place to start when you're sick or hurt, but if their office is closed and it's not life threatening then urgent care may be the right choice for you.

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