Munson Healthcare Prepares for Higher Summer Patient Volumes, Reminds People Where to Go for Care

Munson Healthcare Prepares for Higher Summer Patient Volumes, Reminds People Where to Go for Care

Northern Michigan is recognized nationally as a summer tourist destination which means a bump in population of 42 percent or more and increased demand for healthcare services across the area Munson Healthcare serves.  

While more and more patients are seeking out virtual care options, many continue to use emergency rooms as the “front door” to receive care. However, there are many care options available to residents and vacationers but it’s important to know where to go for quality care based on severity, symptoms, and convenience.

“Our goal is to make sure that people get the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” said Munson Healthcare Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Joe Santangelo, M.D. “Emergency Departments (EDs) prioritize care for life-threatening conditions that may require medical, surgical, or psychiatric care. If you come to one of our EDs, we’ll take care of you. But many patients in our ED waiting rooms could receive the care they need through a different avenue that may have shorter wait times and be more convenient.”

Summer is the most common season for injuries. Whether a bee sting or a watersport accident, fun in the sun unfortunately increases our risk for accidents, insect bites, and other unexpected injuries.

Munson Healthcare reminds Northern Michigan residents of the diverse options available for care this summer:

  • Ask-A-Nurse: Munson Healthcare’s free Ask-A-Nurse line is staffed by Registered Nurses who can offer direction on the best place to seek care based on their symptoms. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week at 231-935-0951. Since launching in 2020, Ask-A-Nurse has completed more than 150,000 calls.
  • Primary Care: For local residents with non-life-threatening concerns, a primary care provider should be the first stop. Many provider offices now offer same-day appointments and on-call services, as well as weekend and virtual appointments. Contact your local provider for availability.
  • Virtual Urgent Care: Virtual Urgent Care is most appropriate for things such as abrasions, allergies, cold, cough, diarrhea, flu, insect bites, sore throat, sprains and strains, sinus infections, and more. To find out if virtual urgent care is an option, call 231-935-4995 or visit: Since launching this service one year ago, Munson Virtual Urgent Care has received nearly 7,000 patient visits.
  • In-Person Urgent Care/Walk-in Clinics: For those visiting the region or residents whose primary care provider is unavailable, urgent care, or walk-in clinics can treat:
    • Allergic reactions
    • Asthma symptoms that are not responding to medicine
    • Cuts that do not involve much blood but need stitches
    • Earaches, fevers, moderate-to-severe sore throats and cough
    • Minor fractures sprains, strains, and more.
  • Emergency Department: Any time a life-threatening condition exists, that may require medical, surgical, or psychiatric care, people should immediately call 9-1-1. Among the many conditions that merit emergency room care:
    • Chest or left arm pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Stroke symptoms such as slurred speech, double vision, or weakness on one side of the body
    • Coughing or vomiting blood
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Traumatic injuries
    • Severe burns
    • Severe pain
    • Seizures

Dr. Santangelo emphasizes that anyone suffering a heart attack, stroke, or traumatic injury should call 911 and seek Emergency Care immediately.

However, many people can find timely, convenient care in primary care offices or virtual visits, walk-in clinics, urgent care, or virtual urgent care.

“To ensure that our residents and visitors have the best care experience, it is important to choose the right place based on your health concern. The goal is to always provide the most timely, convenient, highest-quality care so you can get back to enjoying all that Pure Michigan summers have to offer,” said Santangelo.

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