From Urgent Care Centers to Emergency Departments, Which One is Right for You?

April 3, 2017

From urgent care centers to walk-in clinics, trips to the family doctor or emergency room visits – there are more healthcare options to choose from than ever before. And while having more choices is definitely a plus, Swain Community Hospital realizes that it also can be confusing when it comes to selecting the right option at the right time.

“Knowing who to call or where to go is critical in ensuring the ongoing health and well-being of our communities,” said Lucretia Stargell, administrator, Swain Community Hospital. “Our mission is making communities healthier, and one way we can do that is to ensure that our community members know where to go to get the care they need.”

Let’s start with primary care which refers to a person’s regular physician or physician group. A primary care practice is where someone might go when sick or in need of preventive care such as an annual physical or wellness check. Typically, people visit primary care doctors for:

  • annual exams and screenings
  • immunizations
  • chronic disease
  • prenatal care
  • earaches
  • colds
  • fevers
  • non-urgent healthcare needs

Any person without a primary care physician can search ‘Find a Doctor’ at or call 1-844-414-DOCS to find the right doctor.

Emergency Room Care

The Swain Community Hospital emergency room is open 24 hours and treats patients experiencing severe illness or injury any time of day or night. These may include:​

  • symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain or severe shortness of breath
  • warning signs of stroke such as numbness in the face, arms, and legs
  • severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop
  • automobile or industrial accident
  • poisoning
  • complicated bone fractures
  • major illness
  • head injuries
  • suicide attempts or thoughts

It is important to remember that the emergency room is for emergencies only. Anyone experiencing or witnessing any of the above, or any other potentially life-threatening medical condition, should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.

Swain Community Hospital is pleased to provide lower than average wait times for seeing a doctor after arrival. Patients arriving at Swain can generally be seen by the physician in less than 30 minutes. The hospital also houses Swain Family Care that offers pediatric walk-in clinics in the morning and also offers same day and next day appointments to serve the community of Swain and surrounding counties with the care they need, when they need it.

“At Swain Community Hospital we are genuinely honored that our community members continuously choose us for their healthcare needs,” said Stargell. “We encourage individuals with questions about their healthcare needs to call the hospital so that we can make sure they get the answers they need and find the care that’s right for them.”