Southwest Health Notes Where and when to go for medical care

It’s 2 a.m. and you’re sick or in pain. Should you go to the hospital emergency department or tough it out until your doctor’s office opens in the morning? Or you’re at work on a weekday morning and begin to experience pressure in your chest and difficulty breathing. Do you call your doctor or call an ambulance? Knowing how to get the right medical care in the right venue at the right time can be tricky sometimes. You don’t want to rack of an expensive emergency department visit for something that’s not really an emergency, but . . . what if it really is an emergency? Here are some guidelines to help you determine where to go when to receive the best medical care possible.

When to go the emergency department

Chest pain

Major head injury

Severe fracture

Uncontrolled bleeding

Seizure or shock

Sudden paralysis

Loss of vision

Ingestion of foreign object

Fainting, confusion, loss of consciousness

Fever in an infant less than 6 months old

High fever (any age)

Severe abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting

Asthma attack

Severe headache

Severe burns

Severe back pain

Snake bite or poisoning

When to consider a walk-in clinic if your doctor is unavailable

Colds, cough, flu, mild fever

Sore throat; sinus infection


Ear infection

Rashes and insect bites

Minor cuts and burns


Minor head injuries or suspected concussion

Stomach upset

Sprains, strains, minor fractures

Burning on urination

Toothache (if your dentist is not available)

When to make an appointment with a primary care provider

Routine and annual physicals

Managing chronic health conditions

Prescription management and refills

To discuss new non-urgent, non-acute symptoms

Minor non-urgent, non-acute illnesses and injuries

Other medical care of an ongoing nature

Remember, always use your best judgment and trust your intuition. You know your body better than anyone else, and it will signal you to seek out the care you need.

New Service at Health Fairs: Drug Disposal

A valuable new drug disposal service has been added to the local health fairs this year. If you have unused or outdated medications, bring them to one of the health fairs this month where law enforcement officials will be on hand to assist with collecting and disposing of drugs in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Outdated medications may no longer be clinically effective, and left over drugs that linger in medicine cabinets may be subject to misuse. Take this opportunity to clean out your medicine chest, kitchen drawer, nightstand, or the bottom of your handbag to rid yourself of drugs that are no longer needed or useful.

The two remaining area health fairs are at Mancos Valley High School on April 19 and at the Cortez Recreation Center on April 19. Both of these are Saturdays and the fairs run from 7 a.m. until 12 noon. For more information or questions go to or Deana Yeomans at 749-3088 (Mancos) or Robyn Bragg at 564-2243 (Cortez).

National Healthcare Volunteer Week

This is National Healthcare Volunteer Week, a time set aside to recognize the hard work of volunteers and auxiliary members who provide services to hospital staff, patients, and family members in hospitals all around the country. In 2013, a total of 25 volunteer auxiliary members gave more than 7,000 hours of their time to help out at Southwest Memorial Hospital.

Auxiliary members contribute to the smooth operation of the hospital by transporting patients, delivering flowers and cards, working in the gift shop, providing clerical backup, delivering reading material to patients, serving beverages, making follow-up appointments for patients, and many other duties. In addition to their time at the hospital, many auxiliary members work at home creating beautiful handmade items which are donated and sold at the SWMH gift shop (located in the hospital lobby and operated entirely by volunteers)

If you are interested in volunteering a few hours per week at your local hospital, please contact Jessie Neitzer at 564-2483.

Southwest Health Notes Health News Round Up is a public service feature provided by Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, Colorado. The information provided herein is not intended as patient-specific medical advice or as a substitute for consultation with your personal health-care provider.