Using the Emergency Room Wisely


When you’re sick or injured, Cortland Regional wants you to know that you have options for care: a doctor’s office, a walk-in, or the emergency room. If your pain or symptoms are severe the ER may be the best choice – but not always. “If it isn’t a serious emergency, you should definitely call your primary care doctor first,” says Tammy Aiken, BSN, RN, and Director of Critical Care and Emergency Services at Cortland Regional Medical Center. “Your doctor knows you and your health history and the co-pay for a visit to your doctor’s office will be far lower. Most primary care doctors reserve appointments for patients with emergency and last-minute needs, so don’t be afraid to call and find out if you can be seen in a reasonable amount of time,” Aiken says.

Walk into the Fast Track

If you have non-life-threatening symptoms that need immediate relief and your primary care provider isn’t available, consider a visit to Cortland Regional’s Fast Track. Located in the emergency room, this service is meant for treating simple conditions, like cold and flu, ear infections, and skin conditions, as well as performing basic lab tests and x-rays. It’s a convenient solution for after hours and weekends when your primary care provider is unavailable.

Extended primary care hours

To address the growing demand for more convenient appointment times, Cortland Regional Medical Practice is currently working to expand their family and internal medicine office hours to accommodate visitors earlier and later in the day.

Don’t ignore a true emergency

When you or a loved one is faced with a true, life-threatening emergency, don’t wait – go straight to the emergency room. “An ER has far more resources than an urgent care center, which makes it the best choice in an emergency involving any major organ or system. You’ll pay a higher ED copay for your visit, but if your condition is serious, you won’t need to be transferred to the hospital. All the services you need are right there already,” Aiken says. She advises going to the ER immediately if you are experiencing:

• Slurred speech, drooping facial muscles, and other symptoms of stroke
• Severe chest pain
• Severe belly or abdominal pain
• Shortness of breath
• Severe head or eye injury
• Severe burns or electric shock
• Serious orthopedic injuries, such as a compound fracture or a dislocation

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