Discussion Points for Utilizing Health Care in Minnesota (This is a summary of the Feb 2007 ECM-MDH-KFAI monthly health program. The purpose of this 20-minute segment was to introduce the community to the various types of health care options and encourage them to be more proactive towards the proper use of resources. The proper choice of the type of care facility, i.e. ER vs. primary clinic, will not only improve appropriate health care expenditure, but will also significantly affect the quality of long term medical care to each individual. This program was presented in a question-answer format with Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew/Mr. Elias Getabecha as presenters and Mr. Ahmed Wase, a member of Voice of Ethiopia, as the moderator.) 1. What are the various types of health care facility? Emergency room, urgent care, “walk-in” clinic, primary care clinic and specialty clinic. Sometimes they are stand alone facilities and other times they may be all included within a health care center such as a hospital. Eg. NorthPoint Wellnes Ctr or Cedar Riverside People Center are stand alone clinics. HCMC and ANW Hospital have all the facilities included under the same roof. These facilities are somewhat different in the level and type of care they provide. 2. Explain differences and give examples? Emergency Room(ER) – deals with life threatening problems such as trauma, acute heart disease and worsening of any long term illness that has become critical. It is often open 24 hours a day. It is not equipped to deal with long term care. Eg. A person with an abrupt onset of fast heart rate who is getting short should receive care in the ER. A 25 yo with 2- 3dayd h/o sore throat and fevers but otherwise doing well will probably be better served by going to the Urgent care or “Walk-in” clinic. Urgent Care – deals with problems that are less severe such as tooth ache or the common cold. Like the ER, it is mostly not equipped to deal with long term care. It is open for most hours of the day. “Walk-in” Clinic – similar to urgent care, this type of facility deals with non life threatening conditions and is ready to streamline patients into getting good long term care. The clinic may go by other names as well but implies that one does not need a prior appointment in order to be seen by the health care provider. Eg. A person who checked her blood pressure at Target and found it to be at 170/90 but has no head ache or chest pain can come to this clinic or go to such a clinic to get the initial assessment and also be directed towards the appropriate long term care provider. Primary Care Clinic – this is where people of all ages go when they are not very sick and are ready to establish a long term relationship with a health care provider. People also establish preventive care in this clinic. Specialty Clinic – usually people don’t go straight to this clinic. They are referred to this clinic usually by the primary care provider who is interested in getting some expert opinion on a specific problem. Eg. Cardiology Clinic, Ear-Nose-Throat Clinic, Infectious Disease Clinic… 3. How do people choose a specific facility? Emergency Care – this is often decided by the type of care needed and the proximity of the healthcare facility. Minnesota has a rule that anyone with a life threatening emergency should get the appropriate care at the closest emergency center regardless of insurance coverage or other barriers. Once the critical condition is stabilized, further non-emergency care might be obtained at a different facility Non-Emergency Care will depend on many factors such as the type of health coverage, type of care needed (adult vs. pediatric vs. geriatric), need for transportation and interpreter services. For those insured through work – check which clinic or provider is covered under your plan by calling your health care insurance number often provided in the back of your membership card For those not insured through work – explore methods of receiving medical assistance through the federal, state or county sponsored programs. This will be further discussed in the April 2007 program 4. Others barriers to healthcare - if transportation is an issue, or language is a concern … Family and Friends or other members of your own community are the first line of help. State agencies such as Hennepin County Multicultural Center maybe used as appropriate. Summary: There are different health care facilities and each one has its mission and strength. By choosing the right facility people can save a lot of time and also improve the quality of their long term care. If possible, preventive care is always better than damage control and establishing care before you are sick is recommended for people of all ages. There are some barriers to health care but there are usually ways to overcome them if people know how to access the system and advocate for themselves.