Everything you need to know about urgent care

Urgent care centers can provide you and your family quick, effective, and compassionate care for nonlife-threatening illness and injuries.

Picture this: you’re cutting strawberries and you accidentally slice your thumb. The pain isn’t terrible, but the cut looks deep. It’s bleeding badly. So what do you do? Do you visit your local emergency room? Or head to the nearest urgent care center? This is a type of dilemma many people face. Urgent care centers are popping up across the country, but most people don’t know what makes them different from emergency rooms. When should you head straight to an ER versus going to an urgent care center? Let’s get to the bottom of these questions.

When should I go to urgent care?

The biggest difference between urgent care centers and emergency rooms is the severity of the health problem. Urgent care centers provide treatment for nonlife-threatening illnesses and injuries and unlike your primary care doctor’s office, which is open Monday through Friday, most urgent care centers are open seven days a week, including nights, weekends and holidays. Urgent care centers are staffed by doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners, with most centers equipped with X-ray and lab services. So whether it’s the flu, a broken ankle, upset stomach, a high fever, or severe allergies, urgent care centers are a one-stop shop to get you back on your feet quickly. Other nonlife-threatening injuries and illnesses include sprains, sore throats, headaches, cuts, burns, UTIs, vomiting, earaches, rashes, and dehydration.

If your condition is life-threatening, such as chest pain, coughing/vomiting blood, poisoning, seizure, or difficulty breathing, that would require you immediately visit your nearest emergency room.

If the condition is a minor illness or injury, take advantage of the convenience and affordability your local urgent care center has to offer.

Why should I go to urgent care?

You may be thinking, An emergency room will treat these nonlife-threatening problems, too. Why go to urgent care? Here are a few reasons: 90 percent of urgent care patients wait 30 minutes or less to see a provider; 84 percent of urgent care patients are in and out within an hour. Walk-ins are welcome, and there’s no need to schedule an appointment ahead of time, although doing so can get you in and out more quickly. What’s more, urgent care is more affordable and convenient, while still taking most insurance plans. An ambulance ride to an ER can cost around $1,200 or more, and urgent care can be found in convenient locations in nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco.

Where can I find urgent care in the Bay Area?

Dignity Health has partnered with GoHealth Urgent Care in a joint venture to bring high quality, consumer-focused urgent care centers to the Bay Area. We place the needs of our patients first — by providing an effortless patient experience and a welcoming culture of care in state of the art facilities with a clean, contemporary design engineered for your comfort and privacy. We are in-network with most major insurance plans, and the amount due ranges depending upon your chosen plan. Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care also has a self-pay rate if you do not have insurance or otherwise choose to pay for your urgent care services upfront; our centers are cash-free and accept debit and credit card payments.

If you’re in need of urgent care services, you’re able to check in online to view wait times or simply walk into one of our conveniently located centers to receive world-class care. There are currently 10 Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care locations throughout the Bay area, including one in the Marina, which offers convenient parking directly across the street, with the shortest urgent care wait times in the area.

Why Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care?

With flu season upon us, urgent care centers are a great option for getting your flu shot that fits your schedule. Additionally, Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care allows for seamless and affordable school physicals, without the wait or hassle of scheduling an appointment —simply walk in or check wait times online, which is great when you need to fit the doctor into your busy schedule. Stop in for your kids’ sports physicals, TDAP shots, vaccines, or when your child has an unforeseen illness such as an ear infection or cough.

Finally, when choosing an urgent care center, proximity as well as reputation is important. Choose urgent care centers with hospital affiliations to ensure quality care and ease of integration of your medical records. The Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care collaboration enables Bay Area patients to receive the appropriate level of care for their needs, when and where they need it. Please do not hesitate to call your local Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care center to learn more.

Christopher Bialecki heads business development in the San Francisco Bay Area for Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, the largest urgent care provider in the San Francisco Bay Area. Come visit your neighborhood center at 3259 Pierce St., near Chestnut St., or call 415-965-7942, and learn how Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care can serve your urgent healthcare needs.

This article is sponsored by Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care.


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