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ER Visits Increase During the Holidays; Central Health Encourages Patients to Avoid the Wait and Consider Other Options for Non-Emergencies

ER Visits Increase During the Holidays; Central Health Encourages Patients to Avoid the Wait and Consider Other Options for Non-Emergencies

(Austin, Texas) – Sick or injured this holiday season? Central Health offers access to non-emergency care for people with low income who want to avoid the emergency room (ER) holiday rush.

According to Central Health’s partner Seton Healthcare Family, historically, there is an increase in volume of emergency room visits over the holidays. In fiscal year 2017, ER visits increased by as much as 33.3 percent within a four-day period following Christmas Day.

“Unfortunately, the holidays can be a busy time for injuries and illnesses,” said Mike Geeslin, Central Health president and CEO. “If it’s serious, of course you should go to an emergency department. However, for non-emergencies an urgent care center provides quality care that can save patients time and money.”

Central Health and the Community Care Collaborative, Central Health’s partnership with Seton Healthcare Family, have added 20 locations to their network of urgent and convenient care centers since 2016. The network now includes three providers at 24 locations. Medical Access Program (MAP) members are encouraged to visit urgent and convenient care centers for non-emergencies, rather than the ER. MAP provides health coverage for people with low income, giving them access to doctors, medication, and specialty care.

“At Seton, our mission calls us to serve the poor and vulnerable in our local communities, and our unique partnership with Central Health is an example of our mission in action,” said Craig Cordola, president and CEO, Ascension Texas. “We are proud to partner with Central Health through the Community Care Collaborative to continue providing convenient access to care when and where patients need it most.”

Reasons for spikes in ER visits around the holidays:

  • Those with chronic conditions overindulging, or not sticking to healthy diets
  • Flu
  • Accidents
  • Loneliness
  • Intoxication

“To prevent an unneeded trip to the ER, we encourage people to talk to their family physician if they have one. However, if you are worried or concerned, we are ready to take care of you,” said Dr. Eric Higginbotham, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Care for MAP Members
Through a partnership with Seton Healthcare Family and Rediclinic, FastMed, and NextCare Urgent and Convenient Care Centers, most MAP members will only pay a $10 co-pay—versus $30 to visit the emergency room. Patients can walk in, call, or go online to make a same-day appointment. FastMed clinics are open evenings and weekends, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Central Health Board Chair Dr. Guadalupe Zamora, also a family physician who has been practicing in East Austin for 30 years, said, “If you need immediate medical attention, you may think at first to go to the emergency room. But if your condition isn’t serious or life-threatening, urgent care is a less expensive choice. If you are sick, but it is not urgent, talk to your primary care doctor.”

When to go to Urgent Care
If you need to see a doctor right away, urgent care is a more convenient alternative to the emergency room for issues such as:

  • Fever/cough
  • Upset stomach
  • Earaches
  • Minor burns and cuts
  • Minor injuries needing x-rays
  • Urinary tract infection

Where to get Urgent Care
MAP members can visit several Urgent Care locations operated by Rediclinic, FastMed, and NextCare Urgent and Convenient Care Centers in and around Austin. Visit www.centralhealth.net/map for the entire list of urgent and convenient care locations.