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Walk-in clinics and Urgent Care centers have been fairly new health care choices in America.  Over the last decade or so, many new urgent care clinics have opened in the Phoenix area.  However, determining when to visit an urgent care center can be confusing, especially when you have a primary care physician you know and trust.

Primary Care

Your Primary Care providers, also referred to as “PCPs” are like the quarterback of your health care team.  They manage your health care over the long term.  They’ll make and manage referrals to specialists as needed to help you plan for the healthiest future possible. 

Primary care is actually one of the most vital aspects of your health and should be established by all adults after their pediatrician will no longer see them.  It’s especially vital for individuals with chronic disorders, diseases, or conditions to have an established primary care provider to treat and manage their conditions. 

Some common conditions that require primary care providers include:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Asthma
  • ADHD
  • COPD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Kidney Disease 
  • High Cholesterol
  • Etc.

Any conditions that need to be monitored over time are conditions that require the time and attention of a primary care physician.

Your PCP knows your medical history and can guide your long-term plan for health and wellness.  If you suspect you may need a medicine change, a visit to your primary care provider is the best decision.  They know how you’ve responded to medications in the past.  

Additionally, your primary care physician should conduct an annual physical and guide recommendations for specialists or treatment options.

Urgent Care

The term “urgent care” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary back in 2017 and is defined as “medical care provided for illness or injuries which require prompt attention but are typically not of such seriousness as to require the services of an emergency room.”

It’s fair to say that urgent care serves as an intermediate step between your primary care physician and emergency room care.

Urgent care is often recommended for new illnesses or injuries that require same-day evaluation and treatment if you are unable to get in to see your primary care physician’s office.  

Some common examples include:

  • Strep throat
  • Suspected pneumonia
  • Cuts that require stitches
  • Sprains or fractures that have not broken the skin
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • UTIs
  • Etc.

These are all issues that don’t require a visit to the ER, but also don’t need to be left unattended for several days (or even weeks) waiting to see your primary care physician.

Emergency Room Care

Emergency care is for more serious, and even life-threatening emergency situations. ER’’s are fully staffed around the clock with highly skilled personnel who are equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology.  Emergency Rooms are usually connected to an inpatient hospital which can provide additional care.

Emergency Room patients are taken care of based on acuity.  This means patients with minor illnesses or injuries are only seen after those with more serious conditions have been treated.  This is one of the reasons Urgent Care is a better choice for those with less severe issues.

Some common reasons for visiting the Emergency Room include:

  • Life-threatening events
  • Limb threatening events
  • Chest pain
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Suspected Poisoning
  • Open wounds or fractures
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Head Trauma
  • Shortness of breath
  • Etc. 

About Mercy Grace Private Practice

Mercy Grace Private Practice offers pediatrics, primary care, and medical aesthetic services.  Based in Gilbert, Arizona, we see patients from all over the Phoenix Valley.  Our focus is on providing the whole family with the latest medical services, addressing both prevention and pre-existing conditions.