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Sick and wondering where to go? This guide can help you decide
How to, When to, Why to

Sick and wondering where to go? This guide can help you decide

By Collin Hardwick MSN, FNP-C, Family Medicine, Emergency Services
Posted: July 27, 2020

Do you need to visit the ER? Should you call your primary care physician and schedule an appointment? Could you just go to a minor med facility and see if they can help?

The answer depends on the situation. At Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, we want to make sure you are informed, so that you can make an educated decision. Even though COVID-19 is still a major concern in our community, patient safety is our top priority. Our facilities are ready, and we are ready to take care of you.

Click here to learn more about what we’re doing to keep patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collin Hardwick, a Family Nurse Practitioner with our Methodist Medical Group — Primary Care location on Covington Pike, outlined the different usages for each type of facility.

When should you use Primary Care?

Having a primary care physician (PCP) or a healthcare provider is important. [MOU1] [MOU2] Regular, consistent medical care is essential to maximize your wellbeing and avoid serious health issues down the line — such as heart attack or stroke — especially for those who have chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

If you don’t have one, you can find a provider near you by visiting

If you have a minor illness — like an ear ache or a sinus infection — you should call your doctor. Likewise, if you have questions — for instance, are your symptoms indicative of allergies or could it be COVID-19 — call your doctor first and they will help guide you.

In the case of coronavirus concerns, we can screen you and route you to a testing site, if necessary. You can also schedule an appointment at one of several community testing sites across the area.

There is COVID-19 screening and testing at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare hospital sites. It is an extension of our Emergency Department screening — and testing is strictly limited to patients with symptoms of COVID-19. Asymptomatic people will not be tested.

Methodist patients registered and scheduled for testing prior to a procedure or surgery at an MLH hospital or facility may also be asked to come through the drive through lines.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Memphis and the surrounding area here.

In other cases where you need to be seen by a healthcare professional, your first visit can be to Primary Care. We can examine you and determine a course of treatment. If we determine you are critically ill and need to be admitted to the hospital, we will get you there. The ER does not have to be your first stop.

Over the last few months, many people with underlying conditions have opted to stay home rather than visit their primary care physician. This includes people with diabetes, hypertension, serious heart conditions and other chronic ailments that can make you “high risk” for COVID-19.

We want you to know that we are ready to take care of you. We are doing everything we can to keep patients safe at our facilities.

Patients with underlying conditions need to continue seeing your doctor for routine care. Don’t let fear prevent you from receiving treatment, especially if you’re having complications.

For those who are uncomfortable with an in-person office visit, we are offering telehealth appointments. You can learn more about them here.

Services provided at primary care locations include:

Preventive care to make sure you're up to date on immunizations and routine screening exams to detect diseases early, when they're easily treated.

Annual physicals to provide an overall picture of your health.

Treatment for common medical conditions such as minor illnesses and injuries. This can include conditions like abdominal pain, back pain, migraines, toothaches, small wounds requiring sutures, etc.

Management of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes

Referrals to medical specialists for further treatment, if needed

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in patients requiring hospitalizations for chronic conditions, some with avoidable outcomes, because routine or urgent medical care was not provided in a timely manner. A primary care physician or healthcare provider can help treat you right now — and get a better understanding of your complete bill of health — which can help you avoid complications in the future.


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When should I go to the Emergency Room?

Emergency rooms are seeing an uptick in asymptomatic people coming in for COVID-19 tests, but we need to conserve usage for actual emergencies and critically ill patients.

People with minor illnesses should not go to the emergency room. Instead, they should call their primary care physician or healthcare provider and set up an appointment.

Here are some signs and symptoms that require a trip to the emergency department:

Chest Pain — often accompanied by arm pain, shortness of breath, nausea

Shortness of breath

Stroke symptoms — Signs of stroke include slurred speech, facial droop, limb weakness, especially one-sided weakness, worst headache of your life, dizziness

Uncontrolled bleeding

Loss of consciousness

Dislocations and broken bones

Fever not controlled by Tylenol or Motrin

Head injuries

New onset seizures

Electrical shocks

What about a Minor Med location?

Minor medical centers can be used for non-life-threatening injuries. Our minor meds offer diagnosis and treatment for a number of medical conditions, including:

Colds, flu, strep throat and other viruses

Bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma attacks

Ear, throat and sinus infections

Rashes, poison ivy, bug bites, spider bites and allergic reactions

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea 

They also treat minor injuries like sprains, strains and dislocations — along with cuts, scrapes and splinters.

You can view the wait times at our minor med locations here.

Our minor meds also offer COVID-19 testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

Patients who would like to receive a COVID-19 test may call their local minor med location and schedule an appointment for testing. When you arrive for your appointment, you will check-in at the front desk to pay your co-pay and then be seen by a provider who will administer your test.

For more information on COVID-19 testing — or to find your local Minor Med — please visit