I love the occasionally journalistic side of blogging which allows me to investigate, question, and deliver – and that’s exactly what I’m bringing to you today!
Recently I opened the floor for questions on Instagram regarding urgent care, a healthcare option that’s becoming more and more popular due to its convenience for families. Then, I selected just a few as interview questions (I wish we could have tackled them all!). Next, I got to work interviewing Eric Begly, a PA-C (physician assistant) with MedExpress Urgent Care, a neighborhood medical center with 250 locations in more than 20 states. Begly served as a physician assistant in the Army National Guard from 1998 to 2006 and currently practices medicine and cares for patients in Pittsburgh, PA.
Medical care is something that all of us regularly deal with in various capacities, so the odds are high that you or a loved one has recently considered an urgent care visit. Since these facilities are often great options for urgent medical situations, it’s important to know the situations that urgent care facilities like MedExpress best lend themselves to.
Here are a handful of great reader-submitted questions all about urgent care. I hope you’ll find Begly’s responses as helpful as I did!
An Urgent Care Q&A
“I really don’t even know what urgent care is! So, what is it?”
This is a great question, and one that I love to answer. Urgent care is another term for walk-in health care. Urgent care centers offer walk-in treatment for everyday illnesses and injuries – as well as more advanced services including X-rays, labs, minor surgery, stitches and treatment for broken bones, sprains and strains. Urgent care is there for non-emergent conditions that still require timely care. It offers an option to patients who may not be able to immediately schedule an appointment with their primary care physician (PCP) or who don’t need true emergency treatment like you receive in an emergency room (ER). It really bridges the gap between what primary care and the ER offer.
ERs and PCPs are the backbone of our healthcare system and both play a very important role. MedExpress, as a neighborhood urgent care offering, also plays a very important role by increasing convenient access to health care when it’s needed. For life-threatening conditions, such a trauma, chest pains or uncontrollable bleeding, you should always go to the ER, which is equipped to handle medical emergencies. For everyday illnesses and injuries, like colds, flu, sinus infections, sprains and strains, that require timely attention, there is urgent care – which can provide a convenient, affordable option. We help non-emergent patients get great care, which helps ERs focus on the most critical needs. PCPs are the most appropriate option for the treatment of ongoing, chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, COPD, etc.
“If I visit urgent care and they can’t help me (or send me to the ER), will I be charged?”
I completely understand this question, and it‘s one that many patients have. If you are seen and evaluated by one of our healthcare providers, you will be responsible for a bill depending on the specifics of your insurance plan, deductible and copay amount.
“If you see a doctor via urgent care and want them as your primary care physician, can you do that?”
As an urgent care provider, MedExpress does not provide primary care services, such as the management of ongoing, chronic health conditions. With that in mind, though, if you visit us and we see you and treat you as a patient and you require follow-up care, we’ll absolutely help connect you to additional health care providers and resources. We regularly refer our patients, when needed, to other healthcare professionals in our communities – including primary care physicians, specialists and more – to make sure our patients are always getting the right level of care when and where they need it most.
“When should you not go to urgent care?”
Understanding how to choose the right care at the right time is a key component to addressing personal health care concerns. Most people are aware that life-threatening conditions such as major head injuries, severe burns and paralysis or chest pains are all health conditions that should be treated immediately at the ER. Stroke-like symptoms, major trauma and severe abdominal pain would also be most appropriate for the ER. However, it can become less clear when dealing with broken bones, sprains, minor injuries and every day illnesses such as colds and flu. When determining the best route for care, here is a helpful tip – remember the 3Cs. The 3Cs are condition, convenience and cost.
- Condition: This is the major deciding factor to consider when choosing the appropriate facility. If your condition is life threatening, the ER is absolutely the most appropriate place to go. For non-life-threatening health issues such as mild fevers, earaches, pink eye, urinary tract infections and colds, patients can be treated either at a walk-in urgent care center or a PCP’s office. Most walk-in centers can also perform X-rays, minor surgery, stitches and provide treatment for broken bones and sprains.
- Convenience: Do you need timely care?If you are unable to perform your normal daily tasks because your symptoms are getting in the way, MedExpress has convenient hours (we’re open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day), with no appointments necessary – so you can be seen quickly and start feeling better.
- Cost: If your issue isn’t emergent, urgent care centers can be a more affordable option than the ER.
“If I get into a car accident, should I go to urgent care?”
This is another really good question. At MedExpress, we’ve certainly treated people who have come in to get checked out after a minor car accident. But I’d also like to again stress the importance of choosing the right level of care for your injuries. For example, if you are in an accident and believe you may have a sprain or strain as a result, MedExpress can check you out. In fact, we have X-rays right on site to determine the extent, type and exact location of the injury. However, major head injuries, severe bleeding or severe broken bones – for example, if the bone is visible or has broken through the skin – require a trip to the emergency room. If there is any question about the severity of your injuries as a result from a car accident, it’s always a good idea to go to the ER. And listen to the medical professionals who are at the site of the accident – if they tell you to go to the ER to be evaluated, it’s best to go to the ER to be evaluated.
“My preschooler had a facial laceration on vacation, so we went to the nearest children’s hospital. They told me they were glad I didn’t go to an urgent care because I would have been sent to an ER anyway since this injury was on her face. Is this true? We paid $450 for fancy Band-Aids! Just wondering if this is true or if urgent care facilities handle these types of things?”
Cuts and scrapes should be treated quickly to reduce the risk of infection. Given the timely nature, urgent care is a great option to quickly have a medical professional assess the severity of the wound and clean it. If the wound is very long, deep, jagged or bleeding profusely – you should visit the ER. The number one concern with cuts and scrapes is infections, and the ER may choose to administer intravenous antibiotics, if needed, depending on the nature of the wound. Also, if there is an aesthetic concern or if the cut is close to or on an earlobe or lip, it might be necessary to consult a plastic surgeon, which can be done in the ER.
Eric Begly, PA-C, graduated from Gannon University in 1995 as a physician assistant. Begly served as a physician assistant in the Army National Guard from 1998 to 2006. In 2009, he began his career at MedExpress Urgent Care where he currently practices medicine and cares for patients in Pittsburgh, PA. Big thanks to MedExpress for sponsoring this post.
- Does your family see urgent care physicians or primary care doctors more frequently?
- Have you ever visited a MedExpress Urgent Care?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo