Tonawanda News — Go to the emergency room for abdominal pain as well, unless someone else in your household has had the flu, because it could be appendicitis, she added.
Still, Martin said urgent care centers can be useful in helping to take the workload off of emergency rooms by handling the less life-threatening cases.
“If you have (a small problem) that you would go to your doctor for and you can’t see your doctor, go to an urgent care center,” she said. “Don’t come to an emergency room because there are so many sick people and we’re not going to be as quick as an urgent care center cause we have so many sicker people.”
And in the near future, emergency rooms may find themselves even more overloaded than they are currently.
The future of urgent care
On Jan. 1, 2014, Americans who are not covered by an acceptable health insurance plan will have to pay a fine under the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law March 2010.
Millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance will starting next year, meaning that many more people may be looking for health care, warned Pundt.
“As we move forward into the days of the Affordable Care Act there will be a large number of people who will have health insurance and will be looking for medical care. We already have a shortage of primary care physicians, so it will be very difficult for those people to find healthcare on a regular basis,” he said.
People will have two options, he said, “one is to go to the emergency room, which is already overwhelmed ... it could sink the ship.
“The other safety net will be urgent care. I see the market growing over the next decade and I think the goal of the medical community, including those who lead urgent care, is to work collaboratively to educate patients as to the best location of medical treatment for their injury or illness.”