Choosing the right type of medical care protects your health and safety. It can also save time and money! One important way to get the best care is to know when you should go to urgent or emergency care. Here are a few differences between each type of care, conditions they can treat, and information on urgent and emergency care in Monterey County.
What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care?
Urgent care is designed to supplement a family doctor. You should go to an urgent care after hours, on weekends, or when you’re unable to get an appointment with your regular doctor. Urgent care can provide solutions for simple illnesses or injuries.
Emergency care is designed to treat serious or life threating injuries and is always open. You should go to an emergency center when you need care right away. Emergency care can treat complex injuries and illnesses that must be dealt with in a hospital setting.
When should I go to urgent care?
You should go to an urgent care anytime your doctor tells you to or is not available. Visit your local urgent care for conditions like:
- Minor illnesses or injuries
- Colds, coughs, flu, fever
- Minor injuries
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea
- Minor cuts and burns
- Pink eye or rash
- Sore throat
If your symptoms come on gradually or you are able to recognize them (such as a condition you have experienced before), you should be able to address your condition at an urgent care.
When should I go to emergency care?
You should go to an emergency center anytime your doctor tells you to. Visit your local emergency care for conditions like:
- If doctor tells you to
- Car accident injuries
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Significant difficulty breathing
- Fall from big height
- Head/neck injury
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
- High fever not reducing
- Bone fracture with open wound
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe burns
- Electric shock
- Exposure to serious communicable disease
- Severe allergic reaction
- Unusual headache
If your symptoms come on suddenly or are impacting your ability to function normally (loss of vision, severe chest pain, etc.), you should seek care right away. Remember that if you feel unsure you can get to medical care, you should always call 911 to make sure you stay safe.
What options are available in Monterey County?
We want to help you find the best care in your area. Our parent hospitals, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System offer some great resources to help keep you healthy:
- Community Hospital Emergency Department- Open 24/7. (Learn More)
- Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Emergency Services- Open 24/7. (Learn More)
- Natividad Medical Center (Learn More)
- Mee Memorial Hospital (Learn More)
- Doctors on Duty – multiple location throughout Monterey County (Learn More)
- MoGo Urgent care – Marina, Monterey and Carmel (Learn More)
To reduce the chances you will need emergency or urgent care, establish a relationship with a primary care doctor for regular care. Read more about our tips for finding a primary care provider in our previous blog. Our Aspire Health Plan network includes over 700 providers, including all four hospital systems to ensure that you get the best care. Aspire Health members can call member services to learn more about the urgent and emergency care available in your area.