04 MAR 2024

What’s the Right Choice?

A mother taking the temperature of her sick, sleeping child.
Navigate your healthcare decisions effortlessly with NorthBay Health's accessible services, whether it's scheduling with your primary care physician or seeking immediate attention at urgent care facilities.

With today’s busy lifestyles, health care needs can pop up without warning, and urgent care is a favored choice for many in the communities served by NorthBay Health.

But how do you know when to take your concerns to a primary doctor, urgent care or the emergency room?

Here are some simple guidelines:

  • The Emergency Department is your best choice if your condition is life-threatening. Call 911, and an emergency crew will come to you. The Emergency Department is also the default caregiver when care is needed after hours. As a result, emergency care is expensive, and the wait can be substantial. There are a number of medical conditions that are considered emergencies because they can require rapid or advanced treatments (such as surgery) that are only available in a hospital setting. Symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room include chest pain or difficulty breathing, weakness/numbness on one side and slurred speech, serious burns and broken bones.
  • Urgent Care is an excellent option when you have a non-emergent but serious condition, need to see a medical professional quickly, and you cannot get in to see your primary caregiver. NorthBay Urgent Care facilities are same day clinics that treat numerous conditions, such as bronchitis, pink eye, fever without a rash, vomiting, moderate flu-like symptoms, small cuts that may require stitches and sprains. We even have a dedicated location for orthopedic urgent care needs to get patients in front of orthopedic physicians quickly. Most of our urgent care centers are open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. While urgent care clinics are convenient and a great resource, they are not a substitute for your primary care physician.
  • Primary Care is your best choice when you want to schedule appointments with your primary physician and care team to stay on top of your health concerns, refill prescriptions, complete regular screenings and tests and gain referrals if you need expert care or therapy. If an appointment isn’t available when you need it, you may be able to meet with another physician, a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn more about our emergency care, urgent care, and primary care resources.

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