520 North Third Ave Sandpoint, ID 83864

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Where To Go For Sudden Health Care Needs

By Kathy Hubbard

Wouldn’t it be nice if we only got sick or injured between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday? Well, we all know that isn’t the case. We wake up in the middle of the night with intense stomach pains. Or, we fall off a ladder on Saturday afternoon. So, today’s question is, when do we go to Bonner General Health’s emergency department, and when do we head for Bonner General Immediate Care Clinic (BGIC)?

We know that the ER is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. So, that might be the answer you’re looking for when you need critical medical attention. But, then again, BGIC (located at 400 Schweitzer Plaza Drive in Ponderay) is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is only closed on Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, so that might be an option.

“Recognizing the differences between ‘emergency’ and ‘urgent’ care can be confusing because both terms imply there is a medical need that needs to be addressed quickly,” says Shawn Evans, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. “However, there are distinct differences between hospital emergency rooms and traditional urgent care centers, including the level of care that is provided at each.”

Of course, we’ll assume that you’ll call your primary healthcare provider first if it’s during his or her regular office hours. Your PCP’s office will either get you in for a same-day appointment or will advise you whether to go to the ER or to Immediate Care.

You need to know that BGIC treats cuts, bruises, and minor lacerations; minor burns and skin infections; sprains, strains, and simple fractures; upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and sinusitis as well as earaches, sore throats, fevers, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Go to the ER when life or limb is at risk. Symptoms such as chest pain or difficulty breathing, weakness or numbness on one side; slurred speech; fainting or a change in mental state; serious burns; head or eye injury; concussion or confusion; fever with a rash; seizures; facial lacerations; severe cuts that may require stitches; broken bones and dislocated joints; severe cold or flu symptoms, or vaginal bleeding with pregnancy are reasons to head for the ER.

“Trust your gut,” Dr. Evans said. “If your personal instinct or your motherly intuition tells you it’s serious, don’t hesitate – go to the emergency room.”

We’ve talked before about when to call 911. I can’t stress enough how important it is to call Emergency Medical Services if you or someone near you is showing signs of heart attack or stroke. The EMS can start treatments on the way to the hospital. And, believe me when I tell you that when you’re under duress, you’re in no shape to be driving.

“Many people are nervous about calling 911, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Evans. “When in doubt, please call 911 – what matters most is that you get to the emergency room quickly and safely.”

Here’s an interesting statistic that I found on Scripps website. “A study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics found that among patients who had visited the emergency room but were not admitted to the hospital, 48 percent went there because their doctor’s office was not open.”

He said that many people don’t realize that they have an option to go to an immediate care facility. We’re lucky because BGIC provides diagnostic techniques such as blood draws, X-rays, and EKGs. They can put in and take out sutures, complete sports physicals, screen for strep and flu, and give antibiotics. They can give you that flu shot that you keep putting off in spite of my nagging.

So, all in all, we’re very lucky to have all the bases covered when medical needs arise.


Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

Click Here for Information About Bonner General Immediate Care Click Here for Infornation About Bonner General Health’s Emergency Department

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