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Where Should I go for the RIGHT Care?

In that moment of urgency, when you see a loved one, someone near to you or your own health is of concern, the question arises – Where do I go to get the help I need? Community Health has joined Rutland Community Collaborative’s “Right Care, Right Place” initiative which is designed to help determine the most appropriate direction to go and what the options are when someone is ill, in crisis or injured. The choices – primary care, urgent care, hospital emergency department can be confusing. Just knowing what is available and how to react is important, because making the right choice can save you time and money.

Community Health Associate Medical Director for Express Care Jennifer Hanson, MD, said these questions can help determine the right course of action:

  • Is this an emergency situation that needs a higher level of care and should be seen in the emergency department at a hospital?
  • Is this a chronic care visit with my primary care doctor?
  • Is this an Express Care/urgent care visit where I can I just walk in?
  • Would a virtual Telehealth visit with a smartphone or computer be ok?

The first question always is – Is this a life-threatening situation?  If so, call 911 for the most immediate response.

“In general, where someone goes when they are sick depends on the kind of illness they have and the severity of that illness. A good place to start is with a primary care provider. Calling a primary care provider is still a really good approach,” Dr. Hanson said.

“Patients may wonder what to do and we really encourage the office to help guide them to the right place and the right time,” she said. “If you are uncertain about where to go, they will be able to help direct you to the best place for care.”

Primary Care is the right choice for wellness visits, monitoring chronic health conditions and following up from hospital visits. It’s also a good place for acute visits that do not require an emergency visit.

“People recognize what is a chronic issue but not rising to the level of an acute visit and what is perhaps more critical, and you need to take care of it now,” Dr. Hanson said. “When you are talking about more long-term health issues, diabetes, heart failure, COPD, hypertension, those need regular check-ins with a primary care provider to make sure people are doing well.”

One of the most significant changes post pandemic is that right place now includes telemedicine. The pandemic forced patients to think about their health status and the urgency of their issue, all the while thinking about their own safety and the risk of being exposed to Covid.

“Shortly after the Covid crisis began, we transitioned all behavioral health providers to a telemedicine format,” Community Health Behavioral Health Director Christopher Chadwick said. Since then, Chadwick said behavioral health providers have continued to offer telehealth as an option. At Community Health, a very large portion of behavioral health is done through telemedicine at the request of patients, including those wanting to check in and those struggling with behavioral health issues.

Express Care/Urgent Care offers primary care for minor injuries or illnesses after hours or on weekends when your primary care provider is unavailable. Providers at Community Health’s Express Care centers treat minor cuts, sinus infections, fevers, colds, flu, burns, earaches and pink eye, along with insect stings, tick bites, sprains, rashes and urinary tract infections. Express Care offers walk-in services to children and adults of all ages.

Emergency Department is the best place to go when illnesses or injuries are more severe. These sites can provide more extensive services and can coordinate with specialists or provide advanced imaging or testing. Health problems requiring this level of care include serious accidents such as car crashes and bad falls, chest pain and drug overdoses. It would also include illness such as severe, persistent abdominal pain, coughing up blood and significant shortness of breath.

OneCare Vermont supports the Right Care, Right Place initiative. Community Health participates in OneCare Vermont, the state’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that partners with health insurance companies, hospitals, independent medical practices, community health organizations and community collaborators, working to improve the health of Vermonters and lower the cost of health care.

“Vermonters knowing where to go to get the care they need is an important first step in lowering health care costs because it moves health care spending out of the acute care space and into primary care,” remarks Dr. Carrie Wulfman, chief medical officer at the OneCare Vermont ACO and primary care physician at Brandon Family Care. “This not only reduces high-cost spending in emergency departments and urgent care but increases opportunity within the primary care space to provide disease and illness preventive services and care.”

“We are fortunate to live in an area which provides all levels of care,” Dr. Hanson said. “Each place has its own function, although there can certainly be some overlap. Understanding these differences can help people seeking health care get to the best place for their needs.”

To reach a Community Health primary care provider call:

  • Patient Access Center toll free at 888-989-8707 or locally at 802-779-9169
  • Community Health Express Care Rutland at 802-773-3386 or Castleton at 802-468-5641

For urgent issues or when in crisis contact:

  • 911 emergency hotline
  • 988 suicide and crisis lifeline

Read more about Community Health’s quality, care management and diabetes programs.

Jennifer Hanson, MD is associate director of Community Health Express Care, Community Health’s fastest growing service line. A native of Middletown Springs, Vermont, she is a graduate of Vassar College and The University of Vermont College of Medicine, was a middle school teacher and is a trained midwife.

OneCare is Vermont’s local, 501(c)(3) accountable care organization. OneCare partners with over 5,000 health care providers to transform the state’s health care system. OneCare works with health insurance payers to offer health care providers a fixed payment to pay for patients in their care. To support this “population health management” approach to health care, OneCare provides tools for better delivering and coordinating patient care to improve quality within a budget. This shift in paying for the quality of care instead of the number of tests and services is moving Vermont to a “value-based care” system.

Community Health is Vermont’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham; Community Kids Dental is in Rutland; Community Health Pediatrics is in Rutland and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care Centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers. For more information about Community Health, check our website

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