How to know when to visit the emergency room

Hendry Regional Medical Center provides tips for deciding what level of care a medical condition requires

CLEWISTON — When the unexpected happens, round-the-clock emergency care at Hendry Regional Medical Center can be a lifesaver. The full-service Emergency Department provides medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Although medical care is always available, knowing whether you should seek care in the emergency room or visit a physician could save you time and help you cut down on medical bills.

“Some people are surprised to learn that they don’t always receive immediate care when they arrive at the ER,” said Dakota Redd, RN, Emergency Department Director at Hendry Regional Medical Center. “Rather than seeing patients on a first-come, first-served basis, physicians in the emergency department treat patients based on the severity of their conditions. Many people who visit the ER with less-serious issues would be better served by seeking care at another medical resource, like the James D. Forbes Family Care Center in Clewiston or Hendry Regional Convenient Care Center in LaBelle.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, most people who make a trip to the emergency room do not require emergency services. It is estimated that such unwarranted trips can cost up to three times as much as care in a physician’s office.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/HRMC
Hendry Regional Medical Center offers a bright, spacious emergency waiting room. HRMC offers tips for deciding whether a trip to the ER is warranted.

According to Redd, if your condition is mild, you are experiencing controlled pain, and you can wait to see a primary-care physician, a trip to the hospital may not be required.

Redd shared a few tips for helping people decide whether to seek care at the emergency room.

Symptoms of a stroke should always be taken seriously. If you or someone you know experiences sudden weakness or numbness of the face, legs or an arm on one side of the body; develops a sudden loss of speech or has trouble speaking; experiences dizziness or has a headache; has difficulty keeping your balance or walking, you should immediately call 911 or have someone drive you to an emergency room.

Chest pain warrants an immediate trip to the emergency room. Symptoms typically last for two or more minutes and include pressure across the body; feelings of tightness, burning, or aching around the breast; general chest pain; and lightheadedness. Symptoms of chest pain in women tend to present differently than those in men such as pain in the neck, jaw and back.

Major head trauma also warrants immediate medical attention. This condition can result from sports injuries, falls from any height, or severe accidents.

Cuts or wounds in which bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure can also become a concern. Prolonged blood loss may require medical intervention and, in extreme circumstances, blood transfusions.

Severe shortness of breath can be a result of lung complications. If you are coughing up or vomiting blood, internal conditions may be developing that can have harmful long-term effects.

On the other hand, less-severe medical conditions, such as earaches, minor cuts, low-grade fevers, colds, coughs and mild cases of the flu, often don’t warrant a trip to the emergency room. According to Redd, if you experience these types of symptoms, you can likely benefit from seeking care at a physician’s office.

“It’s good to exercise good judgment when deciding what level of care you need,” Redd said. “When in doubt, you can dial 911 or go to the hospital to get your condition checked out.”

A team of medical professionals staffs the full-service Emergency Department at Hendry Regional Medical Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hendry Regional Emergency Department patients are seen by a trained nurse within five minutes of arrival to triage their condition and within 16 minutes by an Emergency Department Physician.

Patients can also receive treatment for minor injuries and illnesses at the James D. Forbes Family Care Center in Clewiston or Hendry Regional Convenient Care Center in LaBelle.

To learn more about local medical services, visit or call the hospital at 863-902-3000. In case of emergency, dial 911.

About Hendry Regional Medical Center: Hendry Regional Medical Center is a 25-bed critical access hospital that incorporates modern technology with state-of-the-art medical staff to care for its patients. Hendry Regional Medical Center’s mission is “to excel in quality, compassion, and innovation to make our community healthier.”

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