To learn more about each of NCH's four Levels of Care—including locations and hours—visit nch.org/levelsofcare.
Quick quiz: Which condition requires a visit to the ER?
A) Ear infection
B) Chest pain
C) Broken arm
D) A spike in blood pressure
If you guessed B, you're on the mark. But what about the others? Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) offers four walk-in "Levels of Care" to match the treatment that's right for you. "We want to make sure you're getting the best care at the right place," says Carl Lang, MD, director of Ambulatory Services at NCH.
Here's a guide on where to go when you need care now.
What it is: Fast relief for minor illnesses or ailments.
Advantages: Low-cost, weekend/holiday hours, fast.
When to go: Ear infections, small cuts and burns, cold and flu symptoms, pink eye, skin rashes.
What it is: Treatment for established NCH Medical Group patients with illnesses or minor injuries.
Advantages: Affordable, Saturday hours, four locations.
When to go: Very high blood pressure or blood sugar, unexpected health issues requiring physician care.
What it is: Treatment for non life-threatening injuries and illness.
Advantages: Less costly than emergency care, weekend and holiday hours, four locations.
When to go: Sprains, bruises, minor broken bones, respiratory infections, eye injuries, flu symptoms, sore throats, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea.
What it is: Treatment for severe, life-threatening conditions that require "9-1-1" care. "This is a totally different level of expertise," Dr. Lang says.
Advantages: Staffed with trauma, cardiac, stroke and pediatric experts, NCH's Emergency Room and Pediatric ER are equipped to treat life-threatening illness and acute injuries. Experience counts. There were more than 73,000 Emergency Room visits at NCH in 2011.
When to go: Chest pain, shortness of breath, sudden weakness, dizziness, loss of vision or loss of feeling, serious injury or serious pediatric illness or injury.
Dr. Lang acknowledges that—outside of serious emergencies—it's not always easy to know where to go. Having a relationship with a primary care physician can remove some of the guesswork. "Your primary care physician is your gatekeeper to care. He's your champion, and can help you determine which level of care is right for your situation," Dr. Lang says.
Of course, a primary care physician can also work proactively with you to achieve a healthier life. And that may be the best level of care of all. To find the primary care physician who is right for you, click here.