Differences between an Urgent Care Center and an Emergency Department

Southern Ohio Medical Center recently converted the SOMC Health Care Center to an Urgent Care Center in Portsmouth. This conversion will offer patients a resource for immediate non-emergent medical care.

“The biggest difference between an urgent care and an emergency department (ED) is the type of medical complaints that can be treated,” Mary Kate Dilts Skaggs, director of Emergency, Pediatrics and Outpatient Services at SOMC, said.

Critical conditions such as cardiac arrest, heart attacks, trauma, motor vehicle accidents, mental illness, asthma and COPD (breathing problems) can be treated at an emergency department. Patients with severe injuries, accidental injuries, abdominal pain or chest pain should come to the SOMC Emergency Department, located on SOMC’s main campus.

“Less acute injuries and illnesses should seek medical attention at one of our urgent care locations,” Dilts added. “The Urgent Care Centers in both Portsmouth and Wheelersburg will be able to treat minor medical complaints, including minor lacerations (cuts), urinary tract or kidney infections, earaches, migraine headaches, vomiting, rashes, sprains, strains, sports injuries, flu symptoms and fever.”

Dilts went on to explain that the second major difference between urgent care centers and emergency departments is the co-pay and higher deductibles offered by insurance plans.

For example, if a patient has a fever and cough but their family physician’s office is already closed, they can go to the Urgent Care Center. Their co-pay might be $25 for an urgent care visit versus $100 for an emergency department visit (rates based on the average private insurance plan).

“This example is good, however if that same person was also experiencing chest pain, they would need to seek medical attention at the SOMC Emergency Department,” she said. “Despite the higher co-pay, chest pain qualifies as an emergency need.”

If patients seek medical attention at the Urgent Care Center-Portsmouth location and need more acute care, they will be transferred via ambulance to the main campus emergency department.

SOMC offers an emergency department and two Urgent Care Centers. The emergency department is located on the SOMC main campus, 1805 27th St., Portsmouth and is open 24 hours.

The Urgent Care Center-Wheelersburg is located at 8770 Ohio River Rd. in Wheelersburg and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday-Saturday. The Urgent Care Center-Portsmouth is located at 1248 Kinneys Lane (SOMC’s south campus) in Portsmouth and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Saturday.

For more information about these and other services available at SOMC, call (740) 356-5000 or visit us on the web at www.somc.org.