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

As a nationally-recognized summer tourist destination, the population swells this time of year across the northwest lower peninsula’s 10-county area by 78 percent – according to a study by Networks Northwest. This also means an increased demand for healthcare services, which equates to a 42 percent increase in visitors to Munson Healthcare’s regional Emergency Departments. 

While emergency rooms have been a traditional “front door” for folks to receive care, there are more options than ever before available to get quality care this summer at Munson Healthcare.

“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 (ED) prioritize care for life-threatening conditions that may require medical, surgical, or psychiatric care but many others we see in ED waiting rooms could receive the care they need through a new front door that may be even more convenient and have shorter wait times.”

Munson Healthcare reminded Northern Michigan residents of the diverse, virtual options available for care this summer:

  • Ask-A-Nurse: Munson Healthcare’s free Ask-A-Nurse line, launched in 2020, is staffed by Registered Nurses who can offer direction on the best place to seek care based on their symptoms. This service is available from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily at 231-935-0951. Since launching in 2020, Ask-A-Nurse has completed more than 81,000 free calls. 
  • 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 3,300 patient visits. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.

 A list of Munson Healthcare urgent care and walk-in clinics can be found at

  • Emergency Department: Any time a life-threatening condition exists, that may require medical, surgical, or psychiatric care, people should 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

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.

“Whether you are visiting northern Michigan or call it home, we want people to understand the healthcare resources available when they need them,” Dr. Santangelo said. “This ensures our patients are getting the most timely, convenient, highest-quality care so that can get back to enjoying all that Pure Michigan summers have to offer.”

For more information visit: