Your primary care provider and convenient care can both be important components in staying healthy.
But, it’s not always easy to determine when to see which provider. Knowing the importance of a primary care provider and the practicality of convenient care will help you get the best care possible when you need it in all situations.
What is a primary care provider?
Your primary care provider is a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant who manages your overall health over time. Your PCP is someone you can develop a trusted relationship with. They get to know you, your history, and your family history and they have the best picture of your overall health.
Primary care providers may work in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, or pediatrics.
Here are some examples of things to see your primary care provider for:
- Regular health screening or wellness visits
- Management of chronic conditions
- Something is causing you concern or advice for a health problem
- Fever, cough, sore throat, cold earaches or rashes
- Unexplained weight changes
- Lingering pain
- Prescription refills
- Minor injuries such as sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns, minor broken bones, or minor eye injuries
- Bladder or urinary tract infections
- Migraine headaches
Other providers or specialists may only get a snapshot of your health. For example, if you go to the emergency room, the doctor is relying on what he/she can observe. When you follow up with your primary care provider, they have access to all your medical records and other information allowing them to see the “big picture.”
Primary care providers are also important for coordinating care when you experience a complicated medical problem. They can refer you to necessary specialists, review all tests and prescriptions, and make sure everyone is working together. When you have multiple specialists or multiple conditions, your PCP is the link between all other providers.
If you don’t currently have a primary care provider, it’s never too late to find one. Fisher-Titus has providers accepting new patients several locations. To find a provider, visit www.fishertitus.org/find-a-physician or call 419- 660-2900.
What is convenient care?
There may be times when issues arise outside of your primary care provider’s regular hours or when there are no appointments available. Convenient care is a stepping stone between your primary care provider and the ER. It’s an option for when you need to be seen quickly but your injury or illness isn’t so severe you need to go to the ER.
At convenient care, patients can walk in and receive services on a first-come, first-serve basis. Typically, the insurance co-pay is the same as a regular office visit. The convenient care provider will follow up with your primary care provider to let him/her know you were seen.
Here are some reasons to go to convenient care:
- Minor illness or injuries
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever, cough, sore throat, cold, earaches or rashes
- Sports injuries
- Eye infection
- Minor injuries such as sprains, back pain, minor cuts and burns or minor eye injuries
- Mild asthma attack
Fisher-Titus has convenient care locations in Norwalk and Willard. Both locations have evening and weekend hours. Walk-in at your convenience; appointments not necessary. For more information, visit www.fishertitus.org/convenient-care.
Next week’s column will cover “when to go to the emergency room.”
Dr. Jeffrey Harwood is a board-certified family physician. Dr. Harwood has been practicing in the area since 1989. He sees patients at Fisher-Titus Family Medicine in New London and provides care at Fisher-Titus Convenient Care, Norwalk.