When you’re sick or injured, where you go for care can make a lot of difference. If you have a minor ailment, you probably don’t want to sit for hours in an emergency room, waiting until the doctors and nurses have helped all the people with more serious medical issues.

How do you know where to go? Here are some guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Seek emergency room care for conditions such as:

• Compound fracture (bone protrudes through skin).

• Convulsions, seizures or loss of consciousness.

• Deep wounds.

• Loss of vision, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech or confusion (signs of stroke).

• Moderate to severe burns.

• Poisoning.

• Serious head, neck or back injury.

• Severe abdominal or chest pain.

• Severe difficulty breathing.

• Suicidal or homicidal feelings.

• Uncontrollable bleeding.

If you have any of these emergency conditions, call 911.

In many less severe cases, your primary care provider is the best choice. Give their office a call. You may be able to get an appointment at your doctor’s office for your concern or get your question answered over the phone without an appointment.

Medical care after hours

Even if your PCP’s office is closed, call the clinic’s phone number. You will speak with someone who will contact your provider or give you advice about what to do. When your provider is not in the office, they will arrange for another provider to be available to give you care and advice.

Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare also provide crisis/emergency services and supports for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Services are available 24/7 by calling 503-325-5724.

Have a primary dental provider, too. You may have a primary care provider for your physical health. Do you have a primary dental provider and a dental home, too?

The benefit to you of having a dental home is that it’s truly your place for dental care,” says Alexa Jett, CareOregon dental innovation specialist. “Your dental team not only provides your comprehensive oral health care such as exams, cleanings and fillings, but can help if you have a dental emergency. The dental home has your records and can give you family-friendly information about oral health and oral health care.”

Because so many health conditions are affected by oral health, a dental home can help keep not just your mouth healthy, but help your overall health too, she says.

If you have dentures, a dental home is still important to have. Your dental team will make sure your dentures fit properly, take routine X-rays and perform an oral cancer screening. It’s good plan for keeping your mouth healthy.

While it’s important for all of us to have a dental home, it’s best to establish a dental home for children by their first birthday. This dental relationship will help prevent dental diseases like cavities by detecting them before problems occur and easing young ones’ anxiety about dental visits.

If you are a Columbia Pacific CCO member, the name of your dental plan will be on the back of your Columbia Pacific ID Card.

Get to know a pharmacist

Another member of your health care team it’s good to know is a pharmacist. While you won’t have one assigned to you, a pharmacist can be a lot of help with your medications.

In addition to filling your prescriptions, pharmacists will counsel you on their use, including how to take them and what reactions might occur. They are there to answer your questions. Additionally, pharmacists know about how all your medications work together. It’s a good idea to make an appointment and share with them everything you are taking.

“It is especially important to talk with a pharmacist if you are taking vitamins or supplements that you purchase on your own, says Mariah Alford, pharmacy clinical supervisor for CareOregon. “Some of these can interact with medications and make the medications not work as well.”

CareOregon’s pharmacy team developed The MEDS Chart, a simple, tested way to keep track of your medications and share with your doctor or pharmacist how you feel they are working for you.


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