Imagine this: It’s a Monday evening; your daughter has not been feeling well all afternoon. You were hoping that she would make it until tomorrow so you could get her in to see her pediatrician, but she only seems to be getting worse. Will she be ok if you wait until tomorrow to see a doctor? Should you take her to an Urgent Care, or maybe even the Emergency Room?
Here’s some information that may help you decide what to do and where to go if you find yourself in a similar situation.
First, life-threatening emergencies should be handled in the Emergency Room (ER), and a call to 911 is the best way to get there. Please don’t try to take you child to the ER yourself. Life-threatening emergencies include breathing difficulties (including severe asthma attacks where the child is wheezing too much to count to ten or a baby is wheezing too much to drink or nurse), severe trauma, seizures, allergic reactions and head or neck injuries. Cincinnati Children’s has two full-service ERs – one at our Burnet (Main) Campus and one at our Liberty Campus.
If your child’s injury or illness is not life-threatening, but needs attention quickly and your pediatrician’s office is closed, Urgent Care is most likely the place to go. It is helpful to remember that going to Urgent Care is similar to your physician’s office, with a few added services. Please keep in mind that Urgent Care is not the ER and is not staffed for life-threatening emergencies. Cincinnati Children’s has five Urgent Care locations – at our Mason, Anderson, and Green Township outpatient locations, as well as Liberty Campus and Burnet (Main) Campus.
If you feel your child needs to be seen by a doctor, it is always best to call your child’s primary care physician first; he or she will direct you to the appropriate level of care. If you feel like you don’t have time to wait for a call-back from the physician on call, you should call 911 for help and a ride to the ER.
Here are some of the most common things we examine and treat at Urgent Care:
- Simple lacerations and wounds
- Fractures and injuries to arms, legs, fingers and toes
- Ear aches, runny noses, cough and fevers, and common pediatric illnesses such as mild asthma attacks (cough and mild wheezing), stomach flu, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes and strep throat
- Minor burns
You can find current estimated wait times for our Urgent Care centers on the right-hand side of this Urgent Care information page or on the individual Urgent Care pages.
Here are some types of patients or situations that cannot be handled at an Urgent Care because we don’t have the resources or specialists, and some information about what to do instead:
- Very young, unimmunized infants, often less than 2 months of age, with fever or illness such as vomiting or diarrhea – these patients should go to the ER because they will need testing that we cannot offer at Urgent Care
- Children with extensive chronic medical problems – if your child has chronic medical problems, you should have a plan in place with his or her care providers that details exactly what you should do if you need help urgently
- Patients who are 21 or older, even if they are followed by a Cincinnati Children’s specialty service – these patients may be seen in one of the Cincinnati Children’s ERs
- Psychiatric or social service problems – our ERs have psychiatric intake personnel and social workers available 24 hours a day
- Reproductive care or STDs – patients seeking this type of care should contact our Teen Health Clinic, their physician’s office or Planned Parenthood. If there is urgent need for this type of care, one of the ERs will be most appropriate.
- Dental treatment – if an injury involves the teeth, head for the ER at our Burnet (Main) Campus. Dentists are not available at Liberty Campus.
Our Mason, Anderson, Green Township and Liberty Campus Urgent Care locations are open weekday evenings and during the afternoon and early evening on the weekend, but are closed on major holidays. Burnet Urgent Care is open 365 days per year. Please keep in mind that the Urgent Cares have set opening and closing times, and cannot register new patients after the doors are locked. If you need help after-hours, one of our emergency rooms will be the best place to go.
All of our Urgent Cares are staffed with a board-certified pediatrician, some with two pediatricians or a physician and a specially trained pediatric nurse practitioner. Our nurses are all specifically qualified to take care of pediatric patients and we have immediate access to both lab and x-ray, also staffed by pediatric specialists.