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Find the Right Care at the Right Place

January 15, 2017

From the Winter 2017 issue of AtlanticView:


True or False?

If you answered “false” for each question, you’re right. The “best place” for care depends on what you and your family need.*

“Patients sometimes make the choice between their primary care physician, a walk-in clinic or emergency room because one is more convenient for them,” says Jamie L. Rygielski, DO, of Atlantic Health System’s Hackettstown Family Medicine. But different facilities have different levels of equipment and specialists, she says. And obviously, some cost more than others.

“Our staff is very experienced, but we can’t get immediate results of blood work and advanced tests that are important to quickly confirm and treat serious conditions,” says Ian Brodrick, MD, medical director for Rockaway Family Medicine Associates. “The emergency department does. Going there first for serious issues can save you valuable, sometimes lifesaving, time.”

Likewise, emergency room experts say your PCP is the better place to evaluate symptoms before your health worsens. “If you think you might have the flu, for example, call your PCP for an appointment early,” says Anthony J. Brutico, DO, medical director for the emergency department at Newton Medical Center. “Don’t wait until you become so sick that the emergency room is your only choice.”

A Quick Guide

Not sure where to go or when? Physicians with Atlantic Health System offer the following tips:

  • For anything “extreme” – bleeding, pain, shortness of breath, losing consciousness – call 911.
  • Call your PCP when you can, even after hours. Some insurance plans also offer advice through a nurse line.
  • Plan ahead. If you have an injury or symptoms of an illness are getting worse, call your PCP as early as possible to get advice and maybe an appointment.
  • Locate the nearest walk-in clinic. This is not the place for emergencies, and they do not replace your PCP. But staff there can treat minor cuts or broken bones, and moderate flare-ups of asthma or diarrhea, for example.

*As for the quiz above: For chest pain and extreme bleeding, the emergency room is best. For flu, call your PCP early.