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Ask the Expert: When Do You Need Emergency Care?

When you are hurt or sick, it can be difficult to decide where to go for treatment. Should you go to the emergency room? Bonnie Simmons, D.O., FACEP, chair, Emergency Medicine and medical director of Prehospital Care at Lutheran Medical Center, answers common questions about where to go when you need care.

Q. When should I go to the Emergency Department (ED)?
A. If you think you are having an emergency, go directly to the ED. Some symptoms that signal a medical emergency include:
    • Uncontrolled bleeding
    • Trouble breathing
    • Chest pain or pressure
    • Sudden facial drooping or weakness in an arm or leg
    • Coughing or vomiting blood
    • Major injuries, such as broken bones
The ED staff at Lutheran work closely with the surgeons at our Level I Trauma Center and with the specialists at our designated Stroke Center. Lutheran is also a New York City Fire Department Emergency Cardiac Center, meaning we have the expertise and technology necessary to quickly restore blood flow during a heart attack. EDs are busy places and have to take care of the most severe cases first, but in the Lutheran ED, even walk-in patients can connect with a doctor in 30 minutes or less, on average.

Q. What if it is not an emergency, but I still need help quickly?
A. If you do not think your situation is an emergency but it requires immediate care, visit an urgent care center. These centers are often open nights and weekends. They treat minor illnesses and injuries such as:
    • Small cuts that may require stitches
    • Sprained ankles and other minor injuries
    • Ear infections
    • Insect bites
Lutheran will soon offer urgent care services Monday through Thursday from 3 to 11 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Sunset Park Family Health Center at 56th Street and 2nd Avenue. The center accepts most insurance and offers a range of services.

Q. When should I see my regular doctor for my symptoms?
A. If your situation is not urgent or an emergency, make your primary care provider (PCP) your first choice. Your PCP can help with common issues such as:
    • Sore throats
    • Nausea
    • Persistent cough or cold
Your PCP can also monitor and treat you for chronic conditions and offer preventive care, such as immunizations. If you don't have a PCP, choose one whose office hours are convenient for you and who speaks your language.

Need Help Finding a Physician?
To find a Lutheran-affiliated physician, call 718-630-RXRX (718-630-7979) or click here. You can search for providers who are fluent in languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian and Spanish. Our physicians participate in most major health insurance plans. For community residents without insurance, a sliding fee scale is available.

For more news follow Lutheran HealthCare on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn:
Twitter - http://twitter.com/LutheranHC
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YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/LutheranHealthcare
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