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Know When -- And Where -- to Go

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Primary Care, Emergency, or Convenient Care

Today, you have more health care options than ever before. Traditional doctors’ offices, retail clinics, convenient care centers and emergency departments are all able providers. But when illness or injury happens, deciding where to get care is the last thing you want to worry about.

That’s why Alton Memorial Hospital wants you to be as informed as possible about your medical choices. Understanding your options now will make decisions easier when you need same-day care down the road.

Know Your Choices

Primary Care

  • Serves routine and preventive needs

Convenient Care Centers

  • Provide walk-in service for non-serious and non-life-threatening conditions

Emergency Department

  • Treats patients who believe they have a severe or life-threatening condition and/or unbearable pain

Key Differences

Primary Care

Your primary care doctor is a great place to start when you’re sick or hurt.

They know your health history, including any underlying conditions you may have, so they can make informed choices about your treatment and order any necessary test. Many primary care doctors have evening and weekend hours to accommodate busy schedules. But what if you get sick or injured when your doctor’s office is closed?

Convenient Care Centers

For non-life-threatening situations, convenient care centers provide an alternative to the emergency department. Some convenient care centers may have extended hours that may include weekends and holidays, providing doctors and nurses equipped to treat common urgent conditions that profit from same-day care. Visiting a convenient care center may be your choice. Patients are usually treated quickly, and it is typically the same co-pay as a visit to your primary care physician.

Emergency Department

If you believe your condition is severe or life-threatening, you should go to your nearest emergency department or call 911. Emergency departments are well equipped to handle such conditions as injuries, chest pain, stroke symptoms, and other situations you believe may be life-threatening.

Emergency departments must provide a medical screening exam to all patients. Since emergency departments are designed to handle serious medical conditions, patients with less severe conditions, who may be more appropriately cared for at the primary care physician office or a convenient care center, may experience longer wait times.

Be Prepared

Building a relationship with your primary care doctor who knows your health history is important – especially in those moments when you need help making the best decision on where to get same-day care. If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, visit our website to find a doctor.

It’s always a good idea to know where the closest emergency department and convenient care centers are located. That way, when you need walk-in care, you’ll already know where to go.

You should also know what is covered by your health insurance plan. If you have questions about what is covered or your financial responsibility under your health insurance plan, contact your health insurer.

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Alton Memorial Hospital
One Memorial Drive
Alton, Illinois 62002


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