Where to go for health care?

Urgent Care is a great option

In today’s world, it can be confusing to decide where to goto receive appropriate health care for your circumstance; Urgent Care, Family Medicine, ER or a specialist. As a provider in the Fort Dodge area, I wanted to take this opportunity to describe some differences and maybe clear up questions one may have with respect to when to go to Urgent Care or to Family Medicine.

Urgent Care is a relatively newer concept and has shown to be beneficial in times when individuals cannot get into their primary care provider (or doctor). Some degree of convenience is offered through Urgent Care by providing care when one’s primary care provider’s office is unable to offer a timely appointment with today’s busy schedules or maybe outside of regular office hours. Urgent Care provides an option to be seen for a non-life-threatening illness.

It is always best to contact your primary care provider when health concerns arise, as they have established relationship with you, and can direct you on the best course of action. But when health issues arise after hours, on weekends, during the holidays, or when you cannot get into your primary provider — Urgent Care is a great option. Urgent Care is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7:45 pm and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.; and open most holidays. We also offer patients the added convenience to be able to reserve a spot online at unitypoint.org.

Urgent Care sees patients for acute illnesses or issues that don’t require a trip to the Emergency Room. Acute illness or issues seen in Urgent Care include: fever, rashes, simple cuts, sprains/strains, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory/flu symptoms, etc. Another capability of Urgent Care includes the administration of some injections, such as that for migraines. Located on the Trinity hospital campus here in Fort Dodge, we are blessed with the ability to draw labs on-site as well as radiological imaging if that may be necessary for an exam and results are typically back fairly quickly.

Although primary care providers also see their patients for acute illness, they are considered the “go to” providers for preventative care such as well exams, medication refills, immunizations and chronic disease management (Diabetes, blood pressure, etc.). Both Urgent Care and primary care can provide referrals to specialties when appropriate. Additionally, with electronic charts, Urgent Care visit records are sent to the patient’s primary care provider to keep them in the know on what is happening.

Lastly, another fairly common question I frequently hear involves the cost for an Urgent Care visit. Insurance co-payments are usually much lower for Urgent Care visits than for ER visits; however, the charge is the same as when seen by family practice for an acute office visit.

My hope is that this has cleared up some questions regarding the similarities and differences between Urgent Care and primary care. As a provider in Urgent Care, I would like to say how grateful our staff is that patients choose to see our office as an alternative to their usual provider for acute health needs.

Wishing you a healthy holiday season!

Amanda Kuchenreuther, ARNP

Urgent Care-Fort Dodge