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We Keep Taking Our Kids To The ER, But What They Likely Need Is Urgent Care
  • I have entered in this new season of my life as I watch my parents navigate their golden years. I face the responsibility of making sure my parents, who are in their 70’s, get proper healthcare. Not because they cannot do it for themselves, but as we get on in our years, we can leave things out, or simply forget to let the doctors know what’s going on with our bodies.

    At the same time, I’m also taking care of three teens and an elementary-aged child with exceptionalities who needs to see doctors regularly. So you can say that I know my way around hospitals, especially emergency rooms.

    These days, however, hospitals are so packed that you wonder just how much viruses and bacteria are floating around. An emergency room can be a scary place if you have a compromised immunity. But what can a panicked parent do when her child's fever is high? The ER is the only option, right?

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    Enter Dr. Anna Kristina Gutierrez-Rubio, the medical director and a rheumatology expert at Centre Médicale Internationale (CMI), a healthcare gem that I often describe to family and friends as Bonifacio Global City's best-kept secret. Dr. Gutierrez-Rubio, a mom of two herself, has helped me understand how I can be better at taking care of family, which begins at understanding what medical attention they need exactly.

    What is primary care?

    We all know primary care, which is usually provided by a family doctor, an internist, or a pediatrician for kids. It can include well visits, preventative care, vaccination appointments, and the treatment of mild illnesses or common chronic diseases at the early stages, like early hypertension or allergic rhinitis.


    Primary care is NOT specialist care. You consult a doctor in charge of your primary care for your overall health. You may see him regularly over many years.

    Emergency care usually means more specialized care or longer observation.

    What is emergency care?

    Emergency care is a treatment for life-threatening conditions. Common complaints that warrant emergency care are chest pain, difficulty in breathing, severe abdominal pain, broken bones or deep cuts, or diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration. High fever in very young or very old patients or the beginnings of an allergic reaction in patients who have a history of anaphylactic shock needs emergency care.

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    What is urgent care?

    Emergency care is where most of us end up when we are faced with an unexpected illness, especially when it puts our kids or elderly parents in pain or great discomfort. But, emergency care may not always be the sole option — it is possible that what your family needs is urgent care. What is the difference?

    Urgent care refers to the treatment of a minor illness or injury. Often this is something you would go to your primary care/family doctor for, but if you cannot wait for an appointment or adjust to your doctor’s schedule, you go to an urgent care center. Examples are mild to moderate fever, a cough, a sinus infection, ear pain, rash, or a mild stomach ache. Urgent care doctors manage these as outpatient cases. They can also treat minor cases, such as lacerations that need stitching, an allergic reaction, or a mild asthma attack.

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    What should be on our checklist if we are evaluating whether or not to go to the emergency room? That’s hard to answer because checklists are different for each child or person. They can also manifest symptoms differently.

    Of course, if your child is listless or not responsive, or she is breathing fast or in pain, you are never wrong to take her to the emergency room. We know our children best, and we can usually tell when something warrants an emergency room visit.

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    We also know when our kids probably do not need an ER, but we are concerned about waiting in a long line in a primary care clinic, especially when there is pain involved. This is where an excellent urgent care center like CMI comes in. It can give you the same immediate attention you often find at the ER without worrying about what trauma your child might see in the next bed (or worse, he gets an infection).

    An urgent care center will tell you whether or not you need to immediately transfer to the ER while still relieving the situation and helping your child feel better.

    With all these things considered, it does make it easier to understand the differences in the healthcare that we can seek for our children, and even for ourselves. One thing that I find extremely valuable is knowing there are always options for us to take care of the kids, our parents, and our spouses when the need arises. 


    Centre Médicale Internationale is at the 2nd Floor Ore Central, 31st Street corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Call +63 2 8812 1CMI / +63 2 8816 1035 / +63 2 8816 1036.

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