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You can also schedule a COVID test appointment at any Piedmont QuickCare location. If you have a medical emergency, visit one of our Emergency Departments.

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Urgent Care Versus ER: Which Should You Choose?

Athens, Ga. (Dec. 23, 2022) – Knowing where to go for medical treatment can be confusing, and with an increase in seasonal illnesses, like RSV and the flu, many patients want a doctor’s reassurance that they will feel better soon. Gale Kinder, RN, director of Piedmont Athens Regional’s emergency department, often sees anxious and worried families in the emergency room (ER) waiting to be seen for things that can be treated at an urgent care centre or doctor’s office. To help patients choose the best place to receive care, Kinder offers tips to help decide whether an illness needs a trip to the ER or if it can be handled in another setting.

"You can’t plan around sickness, and sometimes your doctor’s office is closed or they are unavailable when you need medical treatment," Kinder said. "Urgent care offers another option for patients who can’t wait until the next day, but their illness may not be severe enough to go to the ER."

An urgent care setting is ideal for treating things such as colds, sinus infections, sore throats, sprains or strains, minor lacerations, and earaches. There are four urgent care locations in Athens. Patients can walk in, book an appointment ahead of time, or schedule a virtual visit.

"People often go to the emergency room for treatment of non-emergent issues, such as pink eye, congestion, or ear pain, not realizing there are faster and less expensive options like primary care locations, Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet offices, QuickCare clinics, and even virtual visits," Kinder explained. "Our goal is to educate our patients, making it easier for them to take charge of their health by offering quick and convenient access to care."

The ER is still the place to go for patients experiencing any signs of a heart attack or stroke. Serious burns, dehydration, a head injury resulting in loss of consciousness, trouble breathing, fainting, or a high fever for children under two months of age should be treated at the ER. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Of course, if you do visit a Piedmont emergency room, you will not be turned away. Our emergency rooms are required by law to provide you with a medical screening and stabilizing treatment.

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