This post is sponsored by UCHealth, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. The following is not intended to provide medical advice, but is for informational use only.
All moms have asked this question at least once, along with a few others: Should I call the doctor? Is this normal? Can I get an appointment today? Do I need to go to the emergency room? Being a parent can be scary when your child is sick or injured and you aren’t sure what to do. Fortunately, UCHealth has partnered with me to give you the lowdown on where to go for health care. Here are the various options for healthcare within the UCHealth care system.
I am so glad we live in 2019 when virtual healthcare is a thing! This would have saved me so much time and trouble in the past. A virtual visit is exactly what it sounds like – chatting with a medical provider on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. By using a webcam, a provider can assist with treating conditions such as pink eye, the flu, vomiting/diarrhea, seasonal allergies, rashes, or other minor medical concerns. This is especially convenient for moms of multiple children who don’t want to take the whole family to the doctor’s office for one sick child (speaking from experience over here). It’s also great when you may be concerned about treating a stomach bug, but aren’t quite sure you need a full checkup at an office – like we have done recently with Rowen. Dragging a sick baby out in the middle of a snowstorm isn’t very fun either. Thankfully, medical care is available in the comfort of your own home with a little technology!
Providers are able to electronically send prescriptions to your pharmacy, if needed. Of course, virtual visits are not appropriate for any emergencies or for procedures that require x-rays or other hands-on examinations.
Primary Care Providers are probably the most well-known option for health care, and are there for most of your general needs. Pediatricians are considered primary care physicians for children, and typically see babies and children for periodic well-checks and general illnesses. Family Practice or Family Physicians are also available to treat children as well as adults. They typically handle annual exams, non-emergent concerns, preventive care, diabetes, and other similar medical conditions. Internal Medicine are physicians who care for adults, whether they are healthy or have complex medical issues. Some primary care practices may have advanced practice providers on staff. These providers may be nurse practitioners or physician assistants and are qualified health care professionals who provide care and treatment while working under the close supervision of a doctor. They have been certified to perform many of the same tasks as a doctor.
My younger children all see a pediatrician for their well-checks, and we pop in early when they come down with a yucky illness that they pick up at school. My teenager feels like she is “too old” for the pediatrician now, so she and I get our annual checkups with a family physician.
Primary Care Providers are available for preventive care, as well as sickness and injuries that are not life-threatening. It may be difficult to get a same-day appointment with a primary care doctor. In that case, virtual visits or urgent care can be a possible alternative.
I wish I didn’t know as much about urgent care as I do, but it seems that my family is accident prone. Urgent care is a great option when you can’t wait for an appointment with your primary care provider, but you aren’t having a true emergency that requires an ER visit. Over the past couple of years, we have visited urgent care for:
- Strep AND flu at the same time (poor Hunter)
- Possible foot fracture from work injury (poor Hunter again)
- X-rays for what turned out to be a broken foot (oh Hunter)
- Pink eye and a virus (that one was me)
- Hip sprain (me again)
- Suspected sprained ankle (Aren that time)
Urgent care is able to handle a lot of immediate concerns, sometimes in ways that a typical doctor’s office cannot. They can take x-rays on site, and can screen for various illnesses. They also offer sports physicals, which is super handy when your child reminds you at the last minute that the coach needs their form. Urgent care is also less expensive than an ER visit, but always call 911 or visit the ER for a true emergency.
Freestanding Emergency Rooms
Two years ago, my mother-in-law was in my living room playing with Aren, when she suddenly got quiet. She asked me to take the baby because she was afraid she would drop her. She seemed somewhat calm and could talk, but I knew something was wrong. My husband walked into the room and realized she was having heart trouble and needed immediate care. Because she was still conscious and was not having a heart attack, my husband drove her to the nearest freestanding ER. It was closer to our home than a hospital, and my mother-in-law was able to get medical attention very quickly.
After she was stabilized, she was safely transported to a hospital via ambulance. We later learned that she had an atrial fibrillation episode. Because she was able to get to a freestanding ER for help, she got quick and personal attention faster than she likely would have gotten if they had driven straight to a hospital emergency room.
Find a freestanding ER nearest you for a medical emergency.
Care at an emergency room is intended for life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as chest pain or heart attack, severe head trauma, severe bleeding, stroke symptoms, poisoning, or attempted suicide. Less serious illnesses or injuries should wait for a doctor’s appointment or urgent care, whenever possible. You should always immediately call 911 if someone has lost consciousness, has difficulty breathing, may be having a heart attack or has suffered a serious injury.
It is important to keep emergency rooms open for true emergencies. Use the guidelines listed here to help determine which facility is best.UCHealth encompasses all of these types of facilities, and is available for all of your healthcare needs. My family trusts UCHealth providers for preventive care, immediate care, and emergencies. Check out https://www.uchealth.org/near-me for more information and to find the location nearest you.