Over the years, urgent care centers have been gaining substantial popularity, not only in Illinois but also across the country, as a practical and attractive medical alternative for time-pressed, busy families. These centers present a better alternative for them in order to avoid spending grueling hours in emergency rooms among sick crowds, simply in the hopes of seeing a doctor.
While they are known by a few different names, such as immediate care, urgicare or even ‘docs in a box’, these urgent care centers offer a wide range of walk-in medical services and extended hours in order to provide for the treatment of minor ailments and injuries to their patients. The sort of ailments and injuries that are commonly treated are issues like sore throats, ear injuries, sprains or fractures and other non-life-threatening medical issues. Since these centers are generally well staffed with board certified doctors and assisted by qualified and trained nurses, you can expect quality treatment for your medical needs. Besides, these centers also have onsite x-ray and laboratory services to make things easier for you and save you the hassle of visiting multiple facilities for these services. Even more beneficial is the fact that most of these centers are open 365 days a year and that they accept most insurance policies. Thus, if you have insurance, you will likely be covered and co-pays for urgent care clinics are usually cheaper than an ER visit.
Due to their convenience oriented and customer-friendly design, urgent care centers are getting a boost from hospitals and many private firms including those like Walgreens, CVS and Wal-Mart as they enter the market. As a result, we find a number of retail clinics developing in established and public places all over Illinois. Patients find these centers easy to access and very affordable, charging much less than emergency rooms. Insurers are aware of this popular trend and they are keen to keep costs down in order to encourage people to use these urgent care centers as an effective alternative to emergency rooms, or even a primary care physician, especially when they are closed on weekends and evenings.
However, it should be remembered that urgent care centers are only for common medical conditions. Symptoms like difficulty in breathing, fainting, sudden dizziness, changes in mental status, severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea, uncontrolled bleeding, a change in vision and pain or pressure in the chest or upper abdomen need to be treated in an emergency room. These symptoms can be the indicators of serious and life-threatening issues only an emergency room is specifically equipped to address. Therefore, when considering where to go for care, patients need to make an informed and conscious decision regarding which facility, emergency room or urgent care center, is best for their medical problem. Evaluating the symptoms and knowing the difference between the treatment options is critical for identifying the level of treatment needed. Minor medical issues can be handled more conveniently and efficiently in urgent care centers than in other alternatives.
While urgent care centers are a vital part of the health care system, there are varying levels of urgent care. Some clinics offer full a full staff of MD’s, while others have a team of physician assistants, who are supervised by a doctor. It is advisable for patients to check out the scope of services offered, the credentials of the staff and the hours of operation before visiting one. Fortunately, it is quite easy to find this information about a center thanks to the power of the internet. A quick online search will reveal specialized urgent care directories that have aggregated this information for clinics in your area or you can make a call and find out if a center offers a particular service or not. In the case of finding treatment for babies and infants, you need to ask specific questions, such as whether they offer pediatric care. You should also inquire about other important issues, like insurance coverage, as it would lengthen your wait for care to have to visit multiple urgent care centers before finding one that accepts your insurance.
As a good sign, in Illinois hospitals are building immediate care centers to ease pressure on their emergency rooms and enhance patients’ access to non-emergency care. Many for-profit firms that specialize in this field of health care are also taking part. With this corporate backing and some of the finest medical schools in the country, it can easily be said that the urgent care facilities in Illinois are some of the best in the country.