Using ER Wisely Can Keep Costs Down
Family Medicine Clinic Care More Cost Effective for Non-Emergency Health Needs
Increasing health care costs are a concern to many, and wise use of the health center emergency room is an important aspect of keeping health care costs down.
“The health center emergency room is not a cost-effective place to get routine health care,” said Erin Starr, chief nursing officer at Jefferson Community Health & Life in Fairbury. “Very ill and critical patients will be prioritized for care ahead of anyone with routine, non-life threatening problems. In addition, emergency room care is very expensive.”
It is important that a patient be seen in the emergency room if they have any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain or signs of heart attack or stroke
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain that is uncontrollable
- Severe shortness of breath
- Allergic reaction to a sting or bite, or medication reaction
- Unexplained stupor, drowsiness, or disorientation
- A major injury, fall or possible broken bone
- Trauma, such as a car accident
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- High temperature (over 103 degrees)
- Laceration that needs stitches when the physician’s office is not open
“We provide the needed care for every patient who comes to our emergency room. It is important to understand that we also must prioritize care in the emergency room. If you come with something that is not life-threatening, and we have another patient whose concern is life-threatening, care will be prioritized to the patient with emergency needs,” Starr said.
There are also many medical needs which are not life threatening and can be handled appropriately at your physician’s office during regular office hours. Some of these might include:
- Flu symptoms
- Sore throat, cold, cough, fever
- Rash, lumps, bumps, minor burns
- Cuts where bleeding is controlled
- Animal bites
- Bee stings, insect bites
- Sprains, strains
- Sores that don’t heal or changes in growths
Jefferson Community Health & Life Fairbury Clinic is a family medicine clinic offering all types of preventative care, care for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries, in addition to physicals and regular followup visits. Five board certified family medicine physicians, four nurse practitioners and 2 physician assistants provide quality care. At JCH&L Fairbury Clinic same-day appointments are available Monday through Friday for urgent health needs. To make an appointment at JCH&L Fairbury Clinic please call (402) 729-3361.
The health center at JCH&L is staffed by nurses 24/7/365 – including weekends and holidays. Medical staff and ancillary medical services are on call at all times, and will be called in as necessary once an assessment is completed.
When an emergency patient arrives by private vehicle they should use the Emergency/Outpatient Entrance on the south side of JHC&L. During regular business hours – typically 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – the entrance is not locked and the area is staffed. After regular hours, patients and their families can enter the emergency entry way and need to pick up the telephone to notify nursing they are in the building. Nursing can then unlock the door remotely and come to the area to assist.
Some tips for most effective use of emergency services:
*Call first. Staff may be able to give additional instructions. Even if you have called ahead, expect to use the phone if you arrive between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
*Bring your list of current medications, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and herbal medications.
*Know and be ready to share your health history. For example, have you had surgeries in the past? Do you have allergies?
*Be prepared to share your symptoms, when they started and how severe they are.
An emergency room is a valuable resource in any community. Using it wisely will help patients make the best use of their time and health care dollars, and receive care appropriate to their needs.
If you are in doubt about whether you should come to the emergency room with any specific symptoms, please feel free to call Jefferson Community Health & Life at 729-3351. We are glad to help you determine the best place to receive care for your current health need.