Lifestyle

Urgent care often the best choice

BY Dr. David Eidt

MultiCare Urgent Care Clinic

Saturday, 1 p.m. and you’re out playing soccer with your kids. You fall and twist your ankle.

You need to get to a doctor right away. Do you go an emergency room? Or do you go to an urgent care clinic?

When people suffer a minor injury or become ill after hours, their first thought is often to seek out the closest emergency room, but urgent care clinics are the more appropriate choice. Urgent care clinics are set up to handle minor incidents more quickly and efficiently than a hospital-based emergency room.

A wait in an emergency room can be lengthy. The cause of these long waits is due to the type of care being offered. Emergency rooms are geared for serious or life-threatening illnesses and injuries. While area emergency rooms are an excellent choice for serious injures and illness, they treat the most seriously ill patients first, then move on to the patients that are less serious. This system of prioritizing patients is known as “triage.” Physicians do not treat patients on a first come, first served basis.

Urgent care clinics are different. Most of the time, physicians see patients on a first come, first served basis. These clinics are perfectly equipped to handle minor medical issues like a cut finger from a kitchen knife, an upper-respiratory infection. This reduces wait times and a patient can often be seen by a physician and sent home more expeditiously. Occasionally, a patient will need our immediate attention, but this occurs less frequently than it does in an emergency room.

In the Kent MultiCare Urgent Care, for example, we see a lot of patients who certainly would have waited several hours if they had gone to a local emergency room. Patients who come to one of the MultiCare Urgent Care Centers in south King County have immediate access to a physician, lab and x-ray services on site. This enables a physician to order the necessary testing to aid in the diagnosis of the medical problem in a much more efficient manner.

Cost is another reason people should seek out an urgent care center. The care at urgent care centers is much less costly for the patient. They often are only responsible for a co-pay since it is a doctor visit. When a patient goes to an emergency room, they are paying for care that is more costly. In addition, the MultiCare Urgent Care Centers accept most insurance plans that are available to area residents.

Convenience and accessibility are other factors. While local hospitals operate excellent, centralized emergency departments, urgent care clinics are dispersed throughout the community and are open in the evenings and weekends. Locations in south King County include:

• Covington MultiCare Urgent Care Center, located at 17700 S.E. 272nd, (253) 372-7160. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays. The center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

• Kent MultiCare Urgent Care Center is located at 222 State Avenue North, (253) 372-7788. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays. The center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

• Auburn MultiCare Urgent Care Center is located at 202 Cross Street SE. (253) 876-8111. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays. The center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Convenient locations and convenient hours make our urgent care clinics the perfect alternative to an extended wait in an emergency room.

For more information on our locations, including directions, go to www.multicare.org/urgentcare.

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