Urgent! Summer Medical Care

 Urgent! Summer Medical Care

By Dan Guarino

Besides the sun and fun, summer is prime time for mishaps, maladies, and medical matters which need attention right away. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, the question is, when/where do you go to get the proper help you need. When do you need an urgent care, the emergency room, or your primary doctor?

Fortunately, for the most dire emergencies, whether on land or sea the Rockaways and Broad Channel are well covered by the FDNY, NYPD, four volunteer fire departments and several ambulance corps. Just dial 911.

As the one hospital on the peninsula, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital (SJEH) at 327 Beach 19 Street is Rockaway’s emergency room. By 2020, their volume of patients seen was “approximately 49,000 per year.”

SJEH reports their Emergency Medicine department “is equipped to treat all levels of emergencies.” Their “highly trained staff …is comprised of Board-Certified Emergency Medicine Physicians, Physician Assistants, Registered Nurses, Resident Physicians, and Patient Care Assistants, all with extensive training and experience in emergency medicine.”

What does St. John’s newly-remodeled emergency department handle? Their team provides comprehensive round the clock emergency care including rapid evaluation and treatment for things like “heart attack and other cardiovascular emergencies, sepsis, stroke, head injuries, obstetrics and gynecology emergencies, orthopedic injuries, behavioral health emergencies, headache, abdominal pain, pediatric and geriatric emergencies and more.”

Within St. John’s emergency department is also “Fast Track,” a “seven-bed rapid assessment and treatment unit dedicated to patients with non-critical conditions requiring emergent and urgent care. Physically separated from critically ill patients, … patients are evaluated, treated and released as quickly as possible to minimize their time in the emergency department.”

“Patients with more serious illnesses or injuries are triaged to the Main Emergency Department where additional diagnostic testing may be performed to provide the highest level of care possible.” SJEH also has an on-site pharmacy to handle any follow-up medication needs.

Unlike urgent care centers or walk-in clinics which have set business hours, hospitals like St. John’s are open 24/7. They are also equipped to handle acute and/or advanced medical situations ranging from heart attacks to car accidents.

As Scripps Health care system’s website explains, “Certain medical conditions are considered emergencies because they can require rapid or advanced treatments, including surgery, that are only available in a hospital setting.”  They mention that there are a variety of reasons to be evaluated in a hospital including serious burns, head or eye injuries, concussions/contusion, broken bones, dislocated joints, severe cuts which might require stitches, facial lacerations, chest pain or difficulty breathing, weakness or numbness on one side, slurred speech, fainting, seizures, severe changes in mental state, fever with a rash, bleeding during pregnancy, severe cold or flu symptoms and more.

So, when do you go to an urgent care?

Urgent cares are a more recent and fast-growing addition to the healthcare field, with several sprouting up all over Rockaway. They offer extended hours, usually seven days a week. A quick Google search will give you a variety of choices should you need one. Note: before you go, it’s always a good idea to check that they accept your insurance plan. Not all urgent cares take all insurances.

“Patients experiencing medical emergencies such as chest pains, stroke symptoms, traumatic injuries, broken bones, or severe bleeding should go to the emergency department,” explains Dr. Leigha Clarkson, Chairperson of Emergency Medicine at St. John’s. However “for minor illnesses or injuries such as flu or sprains, urgent care is suitable.”

As same-day clinics, urgent care centers can handle a variety of medical problems which, though they are not emergency room level issues, need to be looked at and treated right away. Especially if you’re away from home or your primary care physician is not available. They are often equipped with X-ray, lab and other diagnostic services, and their availability helps free up emergency rooms for more serious cases.

What are some of the things you might go to an urgent care for? According to Scripps, these include “fever without a rash, vomiting or persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, wheezing or shortness of breath, dehydration, moderate flu-like symptoms, sprains and strains, small cuts that may require stitches” and more.

However, as Dr. Clarkson notes, “for chronic conditions like diabetes, your primary care doctor is your go-to for comprehensive care and management.” It is always worth checking with your doctor’s office to see if they can see you same-day, as they are familiar with you, your medical history, conditions and previous treatments.

So relax, enjoy the summer. Now you know where to go when you have any health concerns. You are cared for!

Photo by Dan Guarino

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