Hearing “urgent care” in a sentence might signal thoughts of broken arms or lacerations in need of stitching, but these clinics offer much more by way of traditional health care than you might know.
Physicians at these walk-in clinics can often times conduct sports physicals, administer flu shots, and perform a number of other standard health and wellness services, just like your family practitioner – and sometimes beyond.
“I think the main thing that urgent care is here for (is) it gives an opportunity for patients to be seen by someone – a medical professional – when they can’t get in to see their regular doctor,” – or when it’s not necessary to been seen in the emergency room, says Dr. Roby Geevarghese of Campbell Urgent Care in Royal Oak.
What can urgent care do?
Aside from ailments that need immediate medical attention, like injuries and infections, what does urgent care treat?
“It’s often going to be dependent on the type of doctors who are working a specific urgent care,” Geevarghese says, but the list may include sports physicals, occupational health (like work injuries and return-to-work physicals), and certain immunizations.
Coughs, colds, sore throats, flu symptoms and skin rashes also make the list at these clinics.
Dr. Matthew Ajluni, the medical director at IHA Urgent Care and After Hours Care in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Hamburg and Milan, says IHA’s urgent care also offers x-rays, allergy shots, blood draws and various diagnostic screenings and tests.
While some services are even beyond what a primary care physician can provide, Ajluni says “the vast majority” of the services are similar to what your child’s doctor’s office would provide.
When to use urgent care
The first choice when a child is ill should be the child’s primary care physician, Ajluni says, but he adds “we know that that doesn’t always happen” due to office hours and appointment availabilities. “We offer a tremendous alternative.”
At IHA, he notes, there are family doctors and frequently pediatricians on staff. Geevarghese describes urgent care as the “intermediate” between a physician’s office and the ER.
If it’s something that’s a little too extreme to be treated at the family doctor’s office, but not quite serious enough to increase traffic in the emergency room, urgent care is an appropriate choice.
But when the doctor’s office hours just aren’t conducive to your family schedule, urgent care provides a flexible option.
Many times the clinics are open after typical business hours and even on Saturdays and Sundays (a select few even 24-hours), and offer walk-in visits instead of appointments, making it a useful option for working parents, after-school visits – and even those last-minute sports physicals.
“It’s a convenience factor, mainly,” Geevarghese says of choosing an urgent care for these select non-urgent health services. “We’re here, open, with a much greater hour flexibility.”
This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly.