Though the concept of Urgent Care clinics has been around for over 15 years, the idea was never widely known. To be brief, an Urgent Care is simply a walk-in clinic (that means no appointments) that focuses on the delivery of ambulatory care outside the emergency room. To be clear, an Urgent Care serves medical conditions that require IMMEDIATE care, but NOT serious enough for the emergency room. That means if you are having chests pain, signs of a stroke, a blow to the head, broken bone, or any rapidly escalating symptom you should go DIRECTLY to the emergency room and NOT to an Urgent Care clinic. Anyway, the idea is to be in and out with little wait time and back to work or daily life in about an hour or so. Also, most Urgent Care clinics are open after hours so you do not have to worry about getting off work early or finding a sitter.
Urgent Care medical clinic physicians are medical doctors, plus extra certifications showing mastery in knowledge of urgent care medicine. Many Urgent Care physicians have a background in emergency medicine, primary care, family medicine or general practice. I am the lead Physician with a concentration in Family Medicine and am also the Medical Director at my clinic, Westbank Urgent Care. Additional medical staff, such as Medical Assistants, Physician Assistants or Nurses are also found at an Urgent Care. More staff helps to expedite wait time for patients, so expect to see that compared to a regular doctor’s office.
The medical services and treatments may vary depending on the Urgent Care owner and location- some clinics are affiliates of hospitals while others are independently owned. As for me and my clinic, Westbank Urgent Care (located in Gretna, just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana), we are always trying to expand our services. We have a lab for in-house testing, x-ray and ultra sound machines, and even cosmetics. Patients request new services all the time, but we unexpectedly decided to add cosmetics, and it worked! We have a skin therapy called Pelleve (non-surgical face lift to remove fine lines and wrinkles), Botox, Obagi Skin Care products, Latisse, and whatever else is hot on the market. You may even find Urgent Cares that have weight loss management (something we are looking in to). To cap, the idea is to provide patients’ needs with as many services as as possible and all in one location. Pure convenience.
When it comes to checking out, most insurances or private pay is accepted. At Westbank Urgent Care, we accept almost all private insurances, Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare, and of course allow you to pay-in-full with cash, credit, or check. Urgent Cares keep in mind that servicing a wide variety of medical needs in your community means accepting a wide variety of payment- and we do that to accommodate you.
So next time you cant stop coughing at night, jammed a finger in a door, or just need to see your doctor for a physical but cant get in, you should look up your local Urgent Care clinic (or come to us if you’re near!) and let them show you how much easier and faster it is to get medical help at an Urgent Care. It’s all in the name.
Written by: Douglas T. Mehaffie, M.D., Medical Director at Westbank Urgent Care