Know Where to Go for Care at Lee HealthFrom the Desk of Dr. Antonucci
Jan. 18, 2023
Late last year, there was a lot of talk of a ‘tripledemic’ – the confluence of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 viruses circulating across the United States. The combination of these highly contagious viruses and an influx of people in our community have our hospitals seeing more patients, which is leading to longer than normal wait times.
Because Southwest Florida always has new visitors and people moving into our community, I like to take the opportunity through this column to share the various venues for care, so you can choose the most appropriate place to go if you find yourself in need of care. Knowing where to go can help you avoid long wait times, ensuring you get the care you need while also helping to conserve community health care resources.
Primary Care Physician Office
Your primary care physician’s office should be your first call for all your health care needs – from general concerns and preventative care to illness, chronic disease treatment, tests and referrals.
Walk-in Urgent Care
If you need quick treatment for minor, non-emergency injuries or illnesses and you cannot wait for an appointment with your primary care provider, Lee Convenient Care or other walk-in clinics or urgent care centers are the best options for care. Lee Convenient Care is perfect if you have a sprain, cut or rash, a cold or the flu, a urinary tract infection or even a broken bone (as long as the bone has not come through the skin).
Virtual Care – MyChart Scheduled Appointments and Lee Telehealth
Virtual options are even easier and more convenient because you don’t have to leave your house for care.
If you are a patient of Lee Physician Group and you have an everyday health concern or illness, or you need a checkup, virtual scheduled appointments through MyChart can help you get the care you need from the comfort of your home. For more information about this option, call 239-481-4111, and someone from our Lee Physician Group scheduling team can walk you through this simple process.
Lee Telehealth is another great virtual option for care for common, non-life-threatening, non-emergency conditions like colds or flu, rashes, pink eye, allergies, or sprains or strains. With Lee Telehealth, you can access care from a board-certified physician via a smartphone, tablet or computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, visit https://www.leetelehealth.org/landing.htm.
In-Home Urgent Care – DispatchHealth
DispatchHealth is in-home urgent care available between 8 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week. With this option, you can request an appointment without a referral by visiting www.DispatchHealth.com. All you have to do is explain your symptoms, provide some details about your illness or injury and note the name of your primary care provider. The DispatchHealth onboarding team will confirm it is not an emergency and that it is safe to treat your medical condition at home. Then, within a few hours, the medical team will arrive ready to treat you in the privacy and comfort of your home.
In addition to treating your illness or injury, the care team will call in any prescriptions, update your doctor and handle billing with your insurance company. DispatchHealth is in-network with most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and is often the same out-of-pocket cost of an in-network urgent care center. Costs will be different for each patient based on the level of care and insurance coverage, but it is more cost-effective than a trip to the emergency department.
Emergency Departments (EDs)
When time is critical, the EDs are the most appropriate venue for care for severe or life-threatening issues, like a heart attack or stroke, broken bones where the bone is protruding through the skin, and for patients having chest or abdominal pain or trouble breathing. Because patients are triaged, meaning cases are prioritized with the most severe conditions treated first, wait times vary greatly in the ED.
Calling 911 for emergency medical assistance should also be limited to serious emergencies, such as persistent chest pain or trouble breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, fainting or unresponsiveness, drowning or near-drowning, poisoning or severe allergic reaction, seizure, sudden slurred speech or numbness (could be signs of a stroke) or suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
It is important to note that calling 911 does not guarantee you will be seen in the ED faster. All patients, regardless of how they arrive at the hospital, are triaged to provide the safest care.
Lee Health is here and ready to care for and serve you. We share this insight into the various venues for care with the hope that you know where to go for the right care at the right place so you can save time and money.