The last thing any of us want to do is spend a holiday in an urgent care center or emergency room. But an even worse scenario may be calling or driving around unprepared while suffering from an injury or medical episode.
It’s best to know your options in case something happens to you or your family members this holiday season. This guide should help.
What is the difference between urgent care centers and walk-in clinics?
The term “walk-in clinic” is usually reserved for health care facilities that provide more affordable basic medical care than an emergency room. They are often located near retailers or pharmacies so patients can conveniently pick up prescriptions after their visit. Typically, walk-in clinics offer care on a first come, first served basis, and do not take appointments.
An urgent care center typically has more capabilities than a walk-in clinic. Urgent care centers treat more serious non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Their purpose is to help patients avoid the type of expensive medical care they would receive in a hospital emergency room. Urgent care centers can help with moderate symptoms when you're not able to go to your doctor's office.
If you need an X-ray, blood drawn or a wrist splint, many urgent care centers can do that, too. When your symptoms aren't severe, qualified professionals at urgent care centers can provide care that's more cost-effective and convenient than an ER.
If you do require the kind of severe, immediate emergency assistance that these two options cannot provide, dial 9-1-1 and call an ambulance.
Where do I find urgent care near me?
Many urgent care clinics are open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, including on holidays and weekends. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and Blue Care Network (BCN) members can log into their member account online at bcbsm.com and browse the list of urgent care centers that are located near them and covered by their plan.
Members also have access to a toll-free,24-hour nurse line at800-775-BLUE (2583).
You can also use this Urgent Care Association search tool to find an accredited urgent care center near you.
How to get care while you’re traveling
If you are traveling for the holidays, your Blue Cross health coverage travels with you. No matter what plan you have, you’re covered for emergency care in Michigan, across the country or around the world.
If it’s not an emergency, not all plans work the same way. Select your network at this link to see what you need to do to get care that's covered when you’re traveling.
The most common holiday injuries and how to prevent them
Most holiday injuries revolve around toy-related injuries to children and cooking and decorating mishaps, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
When it comes to toys, families should follow age guidance and other safety information on toy packaging and choose toys that match each child's interests and abilities. They should also keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3 and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than age 8, per the CPSC. Once gifts are open, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous playthings.
The CPSC also advises that while cooking, never leave cooking food unattended on the stove or in the oven.
- Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water and look for the “Fire Resistant” label when buying an artificial tree.
- Never string together more than three sets of incandescent lights, and never overload electrical outlets.
- Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items, and blow them out before leaving the room.
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