This blog post is written in partnership with AdventHealth Kansas City about How To Prepare For An Emergency. It includes what to do or expect if you or someone you love has to go to the Emergency Room, the difference between the ER vs. Urgent Care, and more!
Earlier this month I attended an event at AdventHealth Kansas City’s South Overland Park location. We got to hear from their ER physicians and learn about their perspective on emergencies, as well as some of the unique services that AdventHealth KC provides in our community. I will be sharing those in this post as well. I truly hope this is educational and informative for all of you taking time to read it.
Disclosure: I am being compensated by AdventHealth Kansas City for participation in this campaign; however, all opinions expressed are my own. I only partner with brands that align with my mission & vision for my brand, Wellness For The Win.
My Perspective as a Healthcare Professional
As a Dietitian who worked in a hospital for about 3 years, I still have a lot of interest in what goes on in the clinical setting. Ultimately I decided that the hospital wasn’t for me, as I prefer to be on the prevention side of things. I try to encourage people to take action to improve their health now so they can avoid that hospital visit in the future.
When AdventHealth Kansas City approached me about working together for this campaign, I will admit — I was hesitant. Like I said, I want to keep people out of the hospital as much as possible.
However, as I thought about it a little more, I came to terms with the fact that emergencies happen. To ALL of us. Accidents happen. Genes happen. No matter who you are or how healthy your lifestyle may be, sometimes things come up that you can’t predict or control.
At the end of the day, I’m a healthcare professional and I care deeply about people’s health. I want to provide them with the tools, knowledge and confidence to be their own best health advocate. That’s why I enjoy partnerships like this. I love that AdventHealth Kansas City wants to empower people to be prepared for emergencies that will inevitably arise in all of our lives.
Reducing The Stigma of Emergency Room Visits
AdventHealth Kansas City wants to remove the stigma associated with Emergency Room visits. They want to teach you how to be more prepared and informed in case you or someone you love should have to visit the ER.
I’m going to address some of the most common questions & concerns that my followers expressed regarding the ER via Instagram.
The most popular questions/concerns I got were about:
- Difference between conditions that require going to the Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care Clinic vs. Primary Care Physician (PCP)
- Wait times
Let’s Talk About The Cost Of ER Visits
Unfortunately, you’re right. Visits to the ER usually aren’t cheap. It all depends on the services you need and your condition — many different factors go into this.
Knowing when you need to go to the ER vs. Urgent Care is one of the best ways to manage the cost of your healthcare when you’re not going to your PCP.
Q. When Should you go to the ER vs. Urgent Care vs. PCP?
I heard from a ton of you about this topic. Many were asking the difference between the two, and many healthcare professionals want more people to be educated on this.
Things To Go To The ER For:
When someone has 10 out of 10 pain, unconscious and/or has another life-threatening emergency happening. Examples include heart attack, stroke, change in mental status, etc.
When you need a specific life-saving service, such as imaging, specific blood tests, etc. to be stable and healthy, the ER is where you need to be.
What about bone breaks? It depends on the severity. If your bone is sticking out of your skin, you should head to the ER. But if the pain is somewhat tolerable and you’re just having some swelling, this could probably be addressed at Urgent Care.
Things To Go To Urgent Care For:
Conditions that are not immediately life-threatening, such as ear infections, strep throat, bronchitis, cuts/scrapes that may require stitches, fractures/sprains, etc. Go to Urgent Care when you need to be seen quickly, but not immediately. If you go to the ER for things like this, it will be more expensive because you could handle them at a smaller facility without all of the advanced technology.
If you need medical attention in the middle of the night, Urgent Care clinics are not open. The ER is where you would need to go.
Things To Go To Your Primary Care Physician For:
Head to your PCP for things that are not life-threatening and/or don’t need to be treated immediately. You should see your PCP for any ongoing/chronic issues and for regular check-ups.
If you do not currently have a primary care physician, get one. (More info on this at the end of the post). If you haven’t been to the doctor for a check-up in several years, go! Physicals are quick and painless and could quite literally save your life. They could also help you catch things before they require an Emergency Room visit.
If for some reason you do have to go to the Emergency Room, be sure to schedule an appointment with your PCP afterward for any necessary follow-up care.
Other Ways To Reduce Your Healthcare Costs
Make sure you understand your insurance benefits before an emergency happens. What would you do if you had a middle-of-the-night emergency? Do you have a plan in place? Just like you would plan what to do if you had a fire or tornado, try to do the same for other types of emergencies.
We don’t always have the luxury of choosing which ER we go to when we are in a life-threatening situation; however, if you do have a chance to make a choice, knowing which locations are “in-network” for you and what your benefits are can help you make those quick decisions when you are under a lot of stress.
Call the number on the back of your insurance card to ask questions about where you’re covered. This can help you feel more prepared and less financially stressed when emergencies do strike.
Last but not least, make it a priority to see your Primary Care Physician on a regular basis. Most importantly, follow their recommendations. Many emergencies could be prevented if people were proactive by getting annual check-ups and took their medications as prescribed, etc.
Bottom line: if your need is truly a life-threatening emergency, the ER is where you need to be in order to receive the best care. Please do not let the fear of cost prevent you from seeking care if you or a loved one’s life is in danger.
Q. Why is the wait always so long at the ER?
Now that you know what constitutes an Urgent Care visit vs. an ER visit, this should help reduce wait times. If you have to wait a long time in the ER, it is likely because there are people in front of you who are in life-threatening situations.
Most ERs triage people when they come in, AKA they decide the degree of urgency of that patient’s condition. People who are not in a ton of pain or who don’t need immediate attention typically have to wait (i.e. people who maybe should have visited Urgent Care instead).
With that being said, AdventHealth Kansas City campuses work really hard to have little to no wait times in their Emergency Departments! They have triage rooms where patients with less severe conditions (i.e. strep throat) can be seen and discharged quickly with the appropriate medication/intervention.
Knowing what to go to Urgent Care for vs. the ER should help cut down wait times for everyone.
How To Be Prepared for Emergencies
I also gathered some really helpful tips from my Instagram followers on how to be prepared for emergencies that I wanted to share! Many of these were provided by fellow healthcare professionals, including ER nurses!
- If you have any allergies to medications, or if you are on any medications, keep a list in your wallet, your purse or in your phone. Otherwise, make sure your spouse or parent knows these in case you are not conscious to answer questions.
- Make it easy to find Emergency Contacts in your phone. Add important people to your “favorites” like your mom, dad, spouse or best friend so someone can be reached if needed.
- If you are awake but need to go to the ER, bring someone with you if possible. Emergency situations can be very scary and overwhelming, and you may not be able to think straight or answer all questions appropriately. Your friend or family member can be there to provide support, answer questions from the medical team as needed, and/or write things down for you to reference later.
- Bring a blanket and/or a change of clothes to the hospital if you have the ability to do so, or have a loved one bring them to you.
- If you or your loved one is having heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 911 and wait for the ambulance to arrive. DO NOT drive yourself if you are having these symptoms, as you could hurt yourself and others on the road. If your loved one is having these symptoms, still wait for the ambulance. If they begin to decline in the car while you are driving, it will be very hard not to panic and they will have more support and resources available to them in the ambulance.
Resources Unique to AdventHealth Kansas city
- AdventHealth KC has something called “AdventHealth Nurseline” where you can ask a Registered Nurse anything or tell them what is going on. They can help you decide if you need to go to the ER or Urgent Care. This also applies to children. Click here for the number & more information on this phone line.
- AdventHealth has their own urgent care chain called “Centra Care”. You will find them all around the Kansas City metro area and you can learn more about them here.
- Bridge Care is a program that AdventHealth KC has in place to help patients who are frequent ER visitors navigate the health system along with a Registered Nurse and Social Worker.
- AdventHealthKC has an online resource called MyHealthKC, which is designed for anyone who is looking for primary care resources. They have tons of blogs and healthy living guides, but they also have a survey you can take that matches you with a PCP or OB/GYN who is aligned with your health and wellness goals. I even contributed a few guides for them not too long ago! Check them out here. Intuitive Eating Guide | Meal Planning Guide
AdventHealth Kansas City Locations
For those of you who live in the KC area, here is where you can find AdventHealth Kansas City locations!
- They have 3 emergency department locations: AdventHealth’s South Overland Park and AdventHealth Lenexa campuses have emergency departments, in addition to AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, which is the main hospital campus.
- Their Emergency Departments are fully equipped to help you in an emergency. They have the imaging technology and board certified ER physicians 24/7 to help identify the issue and stabilize you. Urgent Care and Community Hospitals don’t have these same capabilities.
- If you are at the South Overland Park or Lenexa location and have to be admitted to the hospital, they will transfer you to the main campus.
WHY I RECOMMEND ADVENTHEALTH KANSAS CITY
I was extremely impressed with my visit to AdventHealth Kansas City’s South Overland Park location. We got to walk through the whole Emergency Department and see inside individual rooms, and hear from physicians, nurses and other staff members.
It is extremely nice and clean inside, has state of the art equipment, and I love that AdventHealth ER physicians are all board certified. This means that they go through special, additional training to be prepared for all kinds of emergencies, even for kids.
I have multiple friends and family members who have delivered babies at the Shawnee Mission (main campus) birth center and it is gorgeous in there! They have all had positive experiences, and AdventHealth is where I plan to get my care when we want to have kids someday, too.
It is extremely apparent that their providers are passionate about what they do, and I would absolutely recommend AdventHealth Kansas City if you are in search of a provider or have to visit an ER or Urgent Care in the future.
Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope it gave you some helpful reminders on how to prepare for an emergency situation. Please comment below if you have any specific questions or feedback for me!
If you loved this post and want to share with others, please feel free to do so on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook! We appreciate you spreading the love and helping us educate more people about how to take better care of themselves and their loved ones.
Until next time,