It always seems to happen when it’s least convenient. Your toddler waits until bed time to announce his ear hurts or her tummy aches. There’s hustling and bustling to get dinner on the table and a not-so-nifty knife maneuver leaves a loved one clutching a badly sliced finger. You’re in final prep for a business trip or vacation and what had been a scratch in your throat is now making it —gulp — painful to swallow.
Any day, at any time, for all sorts of reasons, we can find ourselves facing a symptom or injury which requires making a time-crunched, often emotionally fraught decision:
Emergency room or urgent care?
The good news? For individuals and families in the St. Croix River Valley, walk-in urgent care is about to become a lot more convenient and available. Beginning January 2, 2020, Hudson Physicians will dramatically expand hours of service for Urgent Care at its 403 Stageline Road location. Urgent Care will be offered seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., including weekends.
Also starting January 2, Hudson Physicians will significantly expand its calendar for evening and weekend scheduled appointments. More appointments will be available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
But given what soon will be much greater availability of Hudson Physicians’ Urgent Care, how DO you decide when to visit an emergency room (ER) or walk in at Urgent Care? Following are tips for making smart, safe choices. Or check the Urgent Care page for more information.
Choosing between urgent care and the emergency room
When you’re faced with an injury or symptom which calls for expert diagnosis and treatment immediately, or very soon, give some quick but thoughtful consideration to these four Cs:
- The condition itself (how life-threatening or manageable in the near-term it is).
- The potential cost of the care you’re about to seek.
- The clock and calendar (which facilities are open, and how much time you’ll likely spend there).
When a health concern or injury is severe or life-threatening, don’t overthink: Call 911 immediately or get to an ER as soon and as safely as possible. Examples include traumatic burns and wounds, excessive bleeding and compound fractures. Also, seizures, difficulty breathing, signs of a heart attack (e.g., chest pain, shortness of breath, discomfort in the arms, jaw or back) or signs of a stroke (unexplained weakness, slurred speech). All are indications of a 911, ER-level situation.
Meanwhile, Hudson Physicians’ and other urgent care facilities are fully prepared to provide expert care for a wide array of next-level concerns and injuries. In many cases, you’ll have time to call, describe the situation and seek advice on whether to walk-in now or schedule a next-day clinic appointment.
Urgent care facilities routinely handle diagnosis and treatment of:
- Sports and activity injuries (strains, sprains, blows to the head)
- Minor broken bones
- Less-severe cuts and burns
- Skin rashes
- Suspected infections, including strep, ear, eye, bladder, etc.
- Asthma or shortness of breath
- Mild abdominal, muscle or joint pain
- Vomiting or diarrhea
The urgent care team not only will provide expert diagnosis and treatment, they’ll offer guidance on appropriate follow-up care. In rare cases where an injury or condition does require more advanced care, they can help ensure the patient gets to an ER or higher-level care facility quickly. In fact, at Hudson Physicians Urgent Care, there’s an ER in the same building.
Research shows that as many as 80 percent of ER visits could have been treated effectively at urgent care — and at considerably less cost to the patient. So it literally pays, in non-life-threatening situations, to visit urgent care instead of the ER.
You’ll find the Internet full of information about comparative costs. One example: Consumer Reports last year cited a 2016 study which found that treatment costs for the same diagnosis averaged $2,200 at an ER, but less than $200 at urgent care.
ERs are open 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays, while Hudson Physicians’ and most other urgent care facilities are open somewhat fewer hours. That means, depending on day and time, an ER might be your best, and only, option.
But wait times and treatment times tend to be longer — often considerably longer — at an ER. So when the clock and calendar cooperate with you, visiting urgent care can be a time-saving option.
And remember: Starting January 2, when Hudson Physicians expands Urgent Care services to daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., that time-saving, cost-saving option becomes a lot more available. So come in! We’re here to see you.