Where should you go for health care? Knowing your options is the first place to begin.
Generally, there are four types of places to seek care, and the best choice will depend on the situation. Keep in mind that it is always okay to call ahead and ask if your situation can be handled at the location that you choose.
Option #1 is Primary Care, like that provided at the Southern Ute Health Center (SUHC). This is designed to address all of your chronic or long-standing problems. Please schedule an appointment with your primary care provider for concerns with high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, as well as preventive or maintenance healthcare like immunizations, and check-ups. They can also take care of you when you are sick with cough & cold, stomach upset, cuts, and sprains. Please call the clinic to schedule a same-day appointment for any of these problems. The Southern Ute Health Center has regular business hours Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed for lunch daily 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic is closed from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. A telephone on-call service for problems or concerns after hours is available for patients by calling 563-4581. This type of care is the most affordable.
Option #2 is Urgent Care, like that provided at Durango Urgent Care or Animas Urgent Care. These places generally have longer hours, and are a good option for sick visits (cough & cold, stomach upset, cuts, and sprains) after hours or on the weekend. Urgent care centers are more expensive than seeing a primary care provider, but may offer more convenient night and weekend hours for sick visits.
Option #3 is Emergency Room. These services should be reserved for emergencies, like broken bones, car accidents, new weakness or numbness in arms or face, or new chest pain. If an ambulance is called, they will take you to the emergency room best suited for your situation. This is the most expensive level of care, often costing hundreds of dollars to treat simple conditions, which may have been taken care of by your primary care provider.
Option #4 is Specialist Care. This refers to the care provided by a medical specialist for complicated cases. These services are usually organized or coordinated by a primary care provider if they think that the health condition should be evaluated or managed by a doctor who specializes in treating that problem. Some examples would be seeing a gastroenterologist for liver disease, an endocrinologist for diabetes that is especially difficult to manage, a cardiologist after a heart attack, as well as many other conditions and specialist types. It will be important to contact your primary care provider and your insurance company before seeing a specialist to be sure that these services are covered by your plan.
It is always a good idea to contact your primary care provider after getting care outside of that office to be sure that your medical record is complete and that your provider has the complete picture of your health. Getting health care from multiple places can lead to confusion, and keep you from getting the best care possible.
Any concerns that are not emergent are best dealt with at your Primary Care Provider’s office (SUHC). Remember that dependent on insurance, services outside of SUHC may or may not be covered.
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