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THE MORNING CALL                                                                                    SATURDAY, JUNE 29, 2019  9

                he last time your car needed repairs, you                                 symptoms); stitches; sprains; back pain; minor
                went to a mechanic. The last time you                                     fractures; headaches; allergies, allergic reactions
         Tneeded a haircut, you went to a salon or                                        or rashes; asthma-related symptoms; irritation,
          to your neighborhood barber. When you need a                                    and eye irritation, swelling or pain.
          doctor, however, it’s not always a clear-cut choice                                It is important, however, to remember that
          of what kind of care to seek out.                                               urgent care centers are not equipped to handle
            Do you go straight to an ER? Do you seek out                                  emergency situations.
          an urgent care center? Or do you try to book an                                    “I was the director for an urgent care center,
          appointment with your primary care physician,                                   and I have seen many patients walk in there
          hoping that they can squeeze you in over the                                    where you have to either call an ambulance for
          course of the next 24 hours?                                                    them or send them to the ER. The same thing
            It all depends on the severity of your                                        happens in outpatient settings, where patients
          symptoms, and it’s important for you to                                         walk in and they have chest pain, and then we’re
          know what to do in all situations. Dr. Aparna                                   running around trying to stabilize them and calling
          Tamaskar, board-certified family medicine                                        an ambulance,” says Dr. Tamaskar. “Urgent care
          physician with Easton Hospital, says that it’s                                  centers do have x-ray facilities and lab facilities,
          important for patients to be able to recognize          Photo courtesy of Easton Hospital  and they can be a stepping stone in order to get
          that some situations – such as a heart attack or  Dr. Aparna Tamaskar, board-certified family  the patient to the right place where the patient is
          stroke – absolutely require Emergency Room  medicine physician with Easton Hospital.  supposed to be. They can help to streamline the
          care, while symptoms indicating a less severe                                   process and instead of a patient waiting around,
          ailment can wait.                                                               they now have a path to follow.”
            “If you have an emergency, go to the ER
          because time is precious. For stroke and heart  doctor knows your health history, including what  When to go to an ER
          attack victims, that first hour is so important. It’s  medications you’re taking and what chronic  Emergency rooms are designed to treat
          what we call the ‘golden hour,’ and there could  conditions you have dealt with, they and their  urgent, life-threatening conditions and are not
          be a lot of lives lost in this hour if patients don’t  staff may also ultimately serve as a referral source  the place for routine care or minor ailments.
          go to the emergency room,” says Dr. Tamaskar.  for other health care providers or specialists who  Emergency conditions can include (but are not
          “An urgent care facility or your primary care  you would see for a new or ongoing condition.  limited to): chest pain; difficulty breathing; stroke;
          physician won’t always have the right equipment  Making an appointment with your PCP can  head trauma; trauma from a foreign object
          to diagnose you, and won’t have the kinds of  help you avoid the wait times typically found at  entering the body; open wounds; fractures;
          drugs that can help you in a heart attack or  other alternatives such as an emergency room  severe bleeding; loss of vision; abdominal pain;
          stroke situation.”                     or urgent care center. Though it is not always a  coughing or vomiting blood; and confusion or
            Of course, in this current age of information  guarantee that your PCP can see you the same day  changes in mental status.
          being available at our fingertips 24/7, anyone  that you call for an appointment, Easton Hospital’s  Easton Hospital has recently twice been
          with a computer or smartphone is able to jump  network of providers often have next-day and  recognized for having the shortest ER wait times
          online and self-diagnose. Unfortunately, because  even same-day availability to see their patients as  and has been recognized three years in a row
          of blogs and crowd-source websites, information  soon as possible.              as the Morning Call Readers’ Choice for Best
          that is out there about certain conditions may  “In my case, I try to accommodate my patients  Emergency Services. Their facility includes multi-
          not always be accurate. Undoubtedly, one of  as soon as possible because my patients are  functional treatment rooms for patients with
          the most common challenges for practitioners is  very dear to me and they are like my extended  varied conditions and they have been named a
          working with their patients to make an efficient,  family,” says Dr. Tamaskar. “I always make sure  Designated Chest Pain Center with PCI by the
          accurate and distinct diagnosis after a patient has  that my staff is on top of their scheduling needs.  Society of Chest Pain, and a Designated Primary
          misinterpreted something they’ve read online.  If my patient is sick but not at the level of an ER  Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. Easton’s
            This issue also often presents a double-edged  visit – say, for a sore throat or for bronchitis – I  ER is also geriatric-friendly.
          sword. While self-diagnosis is not recommended  prefer that they come to me instead of going to an  “When it comes to the short wait times
          over seeking appropriate medical attention, it is  unknown urgent care. Even if I’m running a little  at Easton Hospital’s ER, I would not call it
          also associated with better patient compliance  behind because I’ve booked many patients on that  ‘rushing’ – I would call it ‘promptness,’” says
          and self-care, and shows that a patient has a  day, I’d rather compromise my own time than  Dr. Tamaskar. “If the patient needs to be
          desire to improve. However, it is important to  compromise my patients’ health.”  seen, you really need to be prompt and get
          remember that a registered physician is the only                                the ball moving as quickly as possible. That is
          person who can make an accurate diagnosis –  When to go to an urgent care center  something that is very important and is known
          and that communication is the key to any good  Urgent care centers have popped up all  as ‘teamwork.’ If you have a good team in place,
          doctor-patient relationship.           over the place in recent years, and are ideal  things move very fast.”
            “Patients go online all the time and it’s  if something happens outside of the normal
          common practice nowadays. It’s a very common  business hours of your PCP. Most urgent care
          thing, and patients will look at all of the possible  centers have later weekday hours and some
          complications and scenarios and they will try to  weekend hours when doctors’ offices are
          self-treat or listen to what friends tell them,” says  typically closed. When is it most appropriate,  Easton Hospital
          Dr. Tamaskar. “It’s not a good idea.”  however, to visit an urgent care center as       has been awarded
                                                 opposed to an ER?                                Best Emergency
          When to see your primary care physician (PCP)  Urgent care centers can provide          Services three
            Your primary care physician – the doctor  comprehensive medical treatment for a wide
          who is responsible for dealing with a majority  variety of injuries and illnesses, such as: cuts and  consecutive years
          of your health care issues – should be your first  scrapes; fevers; ear and sinus pain or pressure;  by Readers’ Choice.  1 5th ANNIVERSARY
          call in non-emergency situations. Because this  cough and sore throat (or general cold or flu
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