Emergency room, urgent care or primary care?
Why preventive medicine can mitigate emergency and urgent care visits
We have all heard the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is better
than a cure.” Our bodies are always speaking to us. Whether we have
a sore throat, persistent chest pain that we write off as heart burn,
or nagging back pain that we ignore, all of these are signs of impending
health issues. But, what happens when you ignore these subtle cues and
you find yourself sitting in an urgent care center – or even worse
-- in an emergency room receiving acute care?
“I was having sharp chest pains and shortness of breath. I ended
up in the ER at Loretto,” said Pauline Relerford, a 67 year-old
primary care patient at Loretto. “I ended up being hospitalized
and was treated for my lungs,” she said.
Relerford was diagnosed with pneumonia. Each year about 1 million people
have to seek acute care in a hospital or urgent care facility due to pneumonia,
but about 50,000 people die from it. Although pneumonia can come on suddenly
(sometimes in 24-48 hours), often times there are subtle warning signs
before it fully manifests. That is when primary care providers can be helpful.
For most people, a primary care provider is just a generalist. However
generic their role may seem to us, primary care providers are key to promoting
health, wellness and education to patients. They can diagnose a potentially
life-threatening health issue before it gets out of hand. Most importantly,
primary care providers are part of an expert team responsible for screening
for health-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol,
diabetes, obesity and more. Many of these underlying diseases are some
of the reasons why people find themselves in an urgent care facility or
an emergency room treating a heart attack, stroke, or a viral infection
gone wild like pneumonia. If caught in the early stages many of these
diseases can be treated and even prevented.
Now under the close watch of Dr. Nikhila Juvvadi, chief clinical officer
and primary care provider at The Loretto Hospital, Relerford is receiving
continuum of care by Loretto’s team of specialists and experiencing
better health outcomes.
“My blood pressure is good now. I no longer have issues breathing.
I’m doing much better” under Dr. Juvvadi’s care, Relerford said.
Dr. Juvvadi says hospitals like Loretto are moving from an inpatient model
to an outpatient model. The goal for this transition is to improve health
outcomes by reinforcing the importance of people opting into preventive
services such as immunizations and screening for chronic illnesses to
which people may be predisposed.
“It’s not that we do not want to take care of patients who
have to be admitted into the hospital, but we are trying to prevent patients
from having to go to the hospital in the first place,” Dr. Juvvadi said.
According to a Modern Healthcare article, some of the primary reasons why
hospitals are moving in favor of outpatient care is because of the push
for prevention, patient preference and advances in technology such as
minimally invasive procedures that allow patients to heal sooner at home.
Ultimately, as primary care physicians, our goal is to “help patients
implement complete lifestyle changes” that will improve their health
in the long run, Dr. Juvvadi said. “It’s also about the relationships
that we form with our patients” so that we understand their needs
and can thereby “customize their care with the right team of specialists”, she said.
Loretto Hospital’s Primary Care Providers are highly trained doctors
and advanced nurse practitioners who take the time to get to know each
patient to offer best individualized care and treatment.
“We are not going to just give you a lot of medication to treat these
illnesses and send you on your way. We will get to the root cause of your
issues, including your mental health, so that you can live better. We
want to make sure our patients don’t get sick. That’s the
goal,” she said.
When asked about the care she is receiving at The Loretto Hospital, Relerford
responded: “They get down to the point of the problem. I’ve
been coming here for a year now. My health is improving. There is nothing
but good things to say about The Loretto Hospital. They are doing good
For more information about The Loretto Hospital’s Primary Care Services,