Emergency room wait times direct some to urgent care clinics

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LUBBOCK, Texas — The University Medical Center has been operating at full capacity due to limited space, causing patients with minor injuries or illnesses to be directed to urgent care clinics in an attempt to slow down the long wait times.

“There’s a difference between emergency and urgency that we talk about and for an emergency it’s something like you’re having severe chest pains, or you’re having uncontrolled bleeding, you’ve cut yourself and you’re bleeding or you’re having vaginal bleeding and you’re pregnant. That would be an emergency and we recommend you go to an emergency room,” Dr. Sandra Dickerson, president of the Lubbock County Medical Society, said.

Officials at UMC said they screen 100 percent of the patients that enter the emergency room and they will not turn anyone away.

“If you do come to the emergency center and access it with something minor, we will divert you to the emergency care. But that’s after you’re seen by a medical provider in the ER and that urgent care runs 24/7. So it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be seen. It just means you’re going to access care in a different location,” Christopher Piel, Emergency Medical Director at University Medical Center, said.

Piel also said that no one should worry about a wait time preventing them from accessing care.

The University Medical Center recently opened up a new urgent care clinic located at the UMC campus in the Medical Office Plaza II.

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