Each year, many Americans spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary trips to the emergency room, not realizing that there are options. In this recent Community Impact article, Angela M. Gibson, DO, ARC Director of ARC After Hours Clinic and ARC Same-Day Care, offers insight into when you should go to the emergency room, and where you should go when the ER is not necessary.
Types of urgent care centers:
- Emergency departments: Major emergencies normally require visits to hospital-based emergency departments or ERs, always staffed by physicians and often with additional advanced practice clinicians. Costs vary but can be upwards of $1,000.
- Urgent care clinics: For non-life-threatening emergencies, free-standing urgent care clinics are typically staffed with advanced practice clinicians and physicians and provide X-rays and lab services. Cost is typically $150-$350 and upwards.
- Urgent care services: Clinic-based facilities, such as ARC, provide urgent care services and are staffed with physicians and advanced practice clinicians. The cost can be as low as a basic insurance primary care co-pay.
- Minor care clinics: Most often staffed by advanced practice clinicians, minor care clinics cost is more affordable at $35-$250 but have limited lab testing abilities and no imaging services.
"ARC provides Same-Day urgent care services at all our primary care clinics and After Hours urgent care services at five ARC clinics throughout Central Texas. We see the same things that a typical urgent care would see," said Dr. Gibson. "Our urgent care services are based within our clinics; therefore, we can provide specialists, if needed, and coordinated care with their primary care doctors as well, and we're on the same computer system with access to all ARC patient records."
When do you need to go to the emergency department?
In the moment when someone is having an emergency, it can be easy to panic and want to take them immediately to the ER. Dr. Gibson said there are definitive moments when a patient should be taken to the ER and not one of the other kinds of clinics. These moments include when a patient is having substantial chest pain; stroke symptoms; trauma, such as gunshot wounds; bone fractures where surgery is necessary; head injuries that deal with a significant loss of consciousness; shortness of breath, especially when they have pre-existing severe health issues; severe abdominal pain; or pregnancy-related emergencies.
But, when not faced with serious trauma or illness, ARC has several options that offer urgent care services to patients at a lower cost in and a more timely manner.
ARC Same-Day Care
ARC Same-Day Care offers easy access during the day for patients who need to see a doctor that day. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, ARC primary care clinics across Central Texas have some same-day availability, and five clinics are staffed with providers who solely conduct same-day visits.
"Our job is to support our primary care doctors and be their extension for an illness when their patient can't get in to see them," Dr. Gibson said.
ARC After Hours Clinic
ARC has five After Hours Clinics, open seven days a week, 365 days a year, 5:30-9:00 pm on weekdays, 8:00 am-5:00 pm on weekends and holidays. After Hours Clinics provide access to people who aren't able to come during the day or during the week but need to see a physician right away.
When an ARC patient walks in the door, ARC has access to all their medical records and specialists that other clinics may not have. "I have access to the full chart. I know exactly what medications they're on. I know what health problems they have. I know what allergies they have," Dr. Gibson said. "I also have access to all our specialists. At the touch of my fingers, I can communicate directly with a patient's other ARC providers, if needed, to offer a higher level of care and continuity."
Anyone is welcome – Appointments are available to both new and established patients.
ARC Same-Day Care and After Hours Clinic visits are open to everyone, not just established ARC patients. ARC welcomes uninsured patients and offers a cash discount when paid in full at the time of service.
Make an appointment anytime for ARC Same-Day Care and ARC After Hours Clinics.
Same-Day Care and After Hours Clinics have the added convenience of allowing you to make an appointment. This means that you do not have to sit in a crowded lobby waiting on a first-come, first-served basis to see a physician.
Same-Day Care and After Hours appointments are available to both new and established patients. Visit ARC MyChart, call 512-272-4636 and press "1" for an appointment, or book an appointment online.
ARC also offers an on-demand urgent care telehealth service called NormanMD. This is an additional subscription service anyone in Texas can join with or without insurance. NormanMD is an affordable option for non-emergency acute problems.
NormanMD is staffed by ARC physicians, with both pediatricians and adult medicine physicians available for a virtual visit 24/7.