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Should I Call My Doctor or Visit Immediate Care?

Dr Jeffery Kerr with patient
In non-emergency situations, your primary care provider should be your first call. If your PCP is unavailable, Phelps Health’s Immediate Care clinics offer patients an option to receive care.

Published on August 2, 2021

Read Time: Three Minutes

If you are having a serious or life-threatening medical issue or emergency, you probably know to visit your nearest emergency department or call 911.

However, what should you do if you are having trouble with allergies? What if you have cold or flu symptoms? Or you get a minor cut or burn?

Should you call your doctor about your health concern, or should you visit one of Phelps Health’s Immediate Care clinics?

If you haven’t already, you should establish care with a primary care provider (PCP), or what most people call their doctor.

Phelps Health has several family medicine and internal medicine physicians and other providers in communities close to where you live, work and play, including Rolla, Salem, St. James, Vienna and Waynesville.

Primary vs Immediate Care vs Emergency

Primary care providers are trained to treat and care for a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Your PCP can help you with acute illnesses, including colds and flus, urinary tract infections, strep throat and more. Your doctor also help you manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and others.

“In non-emergency situations, your primary care provider should be your first call,” said Rachelle Gorrell, DO, a family medicine physician and division chief of primary care at Phelps Health.

Your primary care provider knows you and your medical history the best.

“You don't have to spend time going over your medical history or personal issues, because your primary care provider is already aware of any concerns,” Dr. Gorrell said.

Having a PCP also is important because your doctor may recognize health changes that you have not noticed and keep you up-to-date with annual exams, screenings and shots.

If you need additional care, your PCP can help refer you to a specialist, too.

Many of Phelps Health’s primary care providers offer same-day or next-business day appointments, so getting into see a doctor or provider can be simple.

If your primary care provider is unavailable, or you need care outside of normal clinic hours, Phelps Health’s Immediate Care clinics in Rolla and Waynesville offer patients an option to receive care.

Immediate Care clinics are helpful in situations where you need to address a health issue and cannot wait for a doctor’s appointment. Immediate Care providers can treat bug bites and stings, help with minor cuts, wounds and burns, as well as check for broken bones or sprains, among other conditions. Sports physicals also are offered at Immediate Care clinics.

If you need a COVID-19 test, contact your primary care provider or visit an Immediate Care clinic.

However, having a PCP is important to ensure you stay healthy and well in the long term.

"In Immediate Care, we see a lot of people who do not have a primary care provider, and so we connect the dots for them,” said Jeffery Kerr, DO, medical director of Immediate Care at Phelps Health. “Our care managers [can help patients find a] specialist or primary care provider, so we can get them the ongoing care that they need."

Find a Doctor Today

Establish care with a primary care provider today. Call (573) 364-9000.

Found in: Care Family Medicine Health Immediate Care Internal Medicine Services