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The Difference between Urgent Care and Primary Care

You’re sick and you need to see a doctor. But where should you go? Call your primary care provider, or head over to urgent care? This is a question many people have. The physicians at San Juan Health Partners Urgent Care help explain the difference.

“Urgent care, to me, is someone who is going to come in who has not been able to see their primary doctor, somebody who needs an acute need taken care of as opposed to something that is a chronic issue,” Dr. Sabrina Schmidt said.

Situations that warrant a visit to urgent care include things like sprains, burns, ear infections and the flu. Because you never know when an urgent situation will arise, urgent care is open every day, including weekends and holidays, and stays open later than a typical doctor’s office. No appointments are needed to see an urgent care provider, making it a convenient option when you can’t get into your primary care provider’s office.

“When emergencies happen in the middle of the day, often time urgent care has the ability to fit people in in a manner that they can get the care they need,” said Dr. Soma Grotefend.
On the other hand, primary care is more of an ongoing relationship between a patient and a provider, taking care of health needs that can be attended to over time as opposed to something that happens unexpectedly. 

“So looking for chronic labs, or following up on diabetes problems with high blood pressure, those kinds of things would be better served in a primary care setting,” said Dr. Schmidt.
Urgent care and primary care work closely together to give each patient the best care possible.

“They are a wonderful marriage. When something is discovered at urgent care that needs ongoing follow up we can actually refer people from an urgent care to a primary care situation,” Dr. Grotefend said.

It also works the other way around, with primary care providers sending patients to urgent care when warranted.

“It’s great when a primary care provider calls us when they have a concern, they can give us some idea and a heads up of what is going to go on so we can take amazing care of their patients,” Dr. Grotefend added.

San Juan Health Partners Urgent Care makes it a priority to help patients get connected with a primary care provider. They have a system in place where they can schedule a patient’s first appointment for them, helping to establish a care team that will be there for them long-term.

“We do see a lot of people that don’t have a primary care, and that is always a challenge,” Dr. Schmidt said. “We do want to take good care of them but they really need to establish a primary care. We want to be available for the acute needs in the community as opposed to chronic care that is really better served in the primary office.”

San Juan Health Partners Urgent Care is open seven days a week including ALL holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. All of the physicians are board certified. Their goal is to take care of your needs immediately and get you back on the path to better health so you can live life better here.

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