An_ambulance_in_KievVisiting a 24-hour urgent care center may seem a bit strange, particularly when they’re placed between an Arby’s and a Chick-fil-A. However, these medical way stations offer legitimate care. 24-hour urgent care centers may be few and far between, but particularly outside of metropolitan areas, but they exist, offering assistance to those who don’t warrant an ER visit and don’t have access to one’s primary care doctor. The all-day potential access to non-emergency health care is important for communities seeking health assistance. Here are few tips to consider when your 24-hour care center:

Contact Your PCP: Although you won’t likely be able to reach your doctor or staff late in the evening, you will likely reach an answering service, which will be able to direct you to a preferred urgent care center. In-network urgent care can save you the trouble of going of waiting to your PCP.

Online Doctors: If you’re not able to leave home and you’re interested in avoiding urgent care facilities, then you should consider telemedicine. Chat with an online doctor first and decide if an in-person visit is required, or learning if your needs can be met through a virtual visit.

Consider Local Reviews: Yelp and Google don’t simply list ratings for restaurants, they also rank health care facilities and urgent care centers. Urgent care centers tend to be privately owned and operated, which is why customer experiences differ from location to location. Research different locations before choosing one.

Have Your Insurance Card on Hand: Urgent care centers accept many major insurance providers. Having your insurance card in your pocket will mean that your visit will be covered by your insurance. Also, if urgent care centers don’t accept your particular type of insurance, you can get an estimate of services and decide if that price is within your budget.

Bring entertainment: Whether you bring a book, a puzzle, or music, have something on hand to enjoy while you wait for your time to visit with the doctor. While visits can be as little as three minutes or as long as an hour; waiting times may vary. Before you go to the urgent care center be sure to call the center and ask about wait times.

There are numerous urgent care facilities in and around Alabama, consult your Yellow Pages to locate the nearest 24-hour urgent care center.