Monday, March 11, 2013 - Nurse practitioner offers advice on where to go for care
It can sometimes be hard to know where to go for your care if you are sick or injured or just need an annual wellness exam.

“We are fortunate in the West Union area to have access to great healthcare,” says Lana Schmitt, NP, nurse practitioner at the Gundersen Lutheran clinics in West Union, Postville and Fayette. “But to make the best use of your primary healthcare provider, walk-in care at the Gundersen Lutheran – West Union Clinic and Urgent Care and Emergency Room at Palmer Lutheran, it is important to understand the care each provides.”

When it’s an emergency
Palmer Lutheran’s Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and should be used for serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. “If you are experiencing potential life-threatening symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, severe cuts or pregnancy-related problems (bleeding or abdominal pain), you should call 911 or go directly to the emergency room,” advises Schmitt. “In these cases, time is crucial, so seek help immediately.”

Primary care
You should schedule an appointment with your primary care provider for minor illnesses and injuries, along with follow up care and annual wellness exams. “You should see your primary care provider whenever possible for your annual exams, medication refills and managements of a chronic conditions,” explains Schmitt. “Your primary care provider is familiar with your health history and should always be your first choice when making an appointment.” Injuries and illness don’t always happen at the most convenient time, that’s why the Gundersen Lutheran – West Union Clinic offers appointments until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The later hours can be used to schedule wellness exams or for injuries and illnesses.

Walk-in Care
The Gundersen Lutheran – West Union Clinic offers a Walk-in Clinic each weekday from 1 – 4 p.m. During this time, if you suffer minor ailments such as a sore throat or possible urinary tract infection and you were not able to make an appointment with your primary care provider, this is an opportunity to stop in to be checked without making an appointment on a first come, first serve basis. These appointments should not be used for wellness exams and to manage chronic diseases.

Urgent Care
In the evenings and weekends when the clinic isn’t opened, Palmer Lutheran offers Urgent Care hours. They are available Monday and Wednesday from 5 -9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m.  “If you are injured or become ill and can’t wait until your clinic opens, Palmer Lutheran’s Urgent Care can provide you the care you need,” says Schmitt.

If you aren’t sure where to go for your medical care, call Gundersen Lutheran Telephone Nurse Advisor at (800) 858-1050. Specially trained registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you decide what type of care you needed.
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