St. Lawrence Health System: When to visit the ER vs. Urgent Care



POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — As COVID-19 has created worries regarding receiving medical help, questions are rising regarding when it is appropriate to visit the ER compared to an urgent care.

St. Lawrence Health System is answering these concerns.

The Health System recently released a question and answer style document addressing when patients should seek medical attention, and where they should pay their visit.

According to SLHS, “the first thought is to visit the Emergency Department, but in some cases a trip to Urgent Care may be quicker and can provide you with the care required.”

“The Emergency Department is open 24/7 for any and all adult and pediatric medical emergencies,” stated Canton-Potsdam Hospital Emergency Department Chair Julie Vieth, MBChB, FAAEM, FACEP. “In general, urgent care should be used for non-emergent conditions or those that require a same-day evaluation, but are not potentially life-threatening.”

According to Dr. Veith, Urgent Care’s can properly assist with animal or insect bites, mild allergic reactions, mild asthma, coughs or colds, minor vomiting or diarrhea, stomach aches, simple falls, fever, headaches, minor infections, minor burns and cuts and sprains or strains.

As for emergency care, Dr. Veith stated that the Emergency Department should be used for time-sensitive or life-threatening emergencies. She suggested that those with the following seek emergency attention:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Electric shock
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Seizures
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Joint dislocations
  • Serious burns
  • Severe bleeding
  • Signs of stroke
  • Passing out or changes in mental status

The St. Lawrence Health System has multiple hospitals across St. Lawrence County, including Canton-Potsdam Hospital Level III Trauma Center.

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