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Consumer How To Choose Guide 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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38 The Daily Citizen ◆ HOW TO CHOOSE GUIDE 2015 Your general practitioner is the health care provider who knows the most about your family's and your own health history. Unfortunately, there are sometimes when your physician isn't available and someone needs medical attention fast. An urgent care center is often a better answer than the emergency room of your local hospital. It's a fact of life that health problems don't always occur in the middle of the week during business hours. If you're not dealing with a sudden serious illness injury, you may have enough time to research the urgent care centers in your area that best meets your needs. You need to weigh a few factors when selecting an urgent care center. Some are obvious. Others require more information. You will want to visit a location that is nearby. You'll also want to know about the level of care that they can provide, the level of assistance available, their hours of operation, and the insurance plans they participate in. Choose one that accepts your health insurance. Be prepared and research your town's urgent care centers before you need fast medical care. Much of the information you need can be found in the telephone book's display ads, your local newspaper or online. If you live in an urban area, there are probably several choices within a short distance. If you live in a rural area, there may be only one provider. In either case, weigh your needs against what the centers provide. Rural residents might have to choose between the urgent care facility and the emergency room. If you have children, you'll want to find an urgent care facility with a physi- cian who is qualified to treat them and who is comfortable doing so. Your urgent care center is a backup plan for those times when your regular doctor isn't available. It's very important to select a center with extended hours or that is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Generally speaking, an urgent care center has the equipment to handle an acute illness like a cold or flu, strep throat or an ear infec- tion. They may also be able to help with cer- tain types of long-term conditions such as high blood pressure. They can typically do basic lab work such as x- rays, treat simple fractures and stitch wounds. If an urgent care center does not have the resources to treat a medical issue that poses an immediate threat, they will trans- port a patient to an emergency facility in an ambulance able to obtain the necessary care. Until the time an ambulance arrives, the personnel at an urgent care clinic works to stabilize a patient's condition. It is the responsibility of the patient to know if his or her health insurance plan is accepted by the urgent care facility. If you don't have health insur- ance, flexible payment plans can be arranged. Most facilities also accept credit cards, checks and cash as payment. People who use the services of an urgent care clinic usually have a positive experience. For example, if you have a bad case of the flu and your regular physician's office can't get you an appointment for another week, you'll have to suf- fer for seven days, by which time you're already feeling better when you do see your doctor. In contrast, you can go to an urgent care facility, see the doctor, get a prescription if you need one and then go home to rest and recuperate without suffering for days. In addition to treating the usual strains, sprains, fractures, colds, flu and strep throat, many facilities are starting to offer preventive services such as laboratory testing and immunizations. Others can help you manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Urgent care facilities can't solve all your medical problems or treat all injuries. However, they are a welcome option when you're sick and can't see your regular doctor. CHOOSE AN URGENT CARE CENTER WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW k j You will want to visit an urgent care center nearby. You'll also want to know about the level of care that they can provide. It's very important to select a center with extended hours or that is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. k j Know if your health insurance plan is accepted by the urgent care facility. Urgent care facilities can't solve all your medical problems or treat all injuries. However, they are a welcome option when you're sick. H OW TO

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