Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Primary Care Options: The doctor will see you now.

Illustration by Cambrea Roy

Illustration by Cambrea Roy

When a sudden illness or injury interrupts your day or night, you may think you need to be seen and treated immediately. Unfortunately, many adults unnecessarily choose the emergency room (ER) for an issue that could be handled in a doctor’s office, health care center or other setting.

Seeking care in the ER for something like a sprain or cough takes valuable resources from someone with a serious, life-threatening condition. Plus, if your situation isn’t an emergency, you’re likely to wait a long time before you’re seen.

So, if you don’t have an emergency, where you can you go? Often a primary care provider (PCP) can help.


Right Care, Right Setting

Establishing an ongoing primary care relationship is beneficial in the short- and long-term. Providers emphasize disease prevention and offer screenings, immunizations and early intervention programs for chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

“There is no need for patients to wait hours in an emergency room for when it’s not an emergency,” says Nickeea Reeves, RN, MS, BSN, business manager, Kline Health Center.

Receiving the right care in the right environment is important to patients and providers alike. Knowing a patient’s history, lifestyle and personal preferences allow patients and physicians to work together ensuring better health.

When you find yourself unexpectedly ill, calling your PCP should be your first line of defense. Doctors are on-call even after hours to help patients determine when and where to seek care.


Other Options

If you’re in need for quick, expert advice, you may have options short of calling your PCP.

For instance, locally, the PinnacleHealth Nurse Advice team can help. These registered nurses can provide answers to health questions, connect you with your doctor’s office and guide you to the right place for care 24/7.

You also have the option to visit PinnacleHealth Express or a FastCare Clinic. Both are convenient options when you can’t get in to see your regular doctor. All locations are open until 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Information is valuable, which is why it’s important to know when to rush to the ER and when appropriate care can be provided elsewhere. While exceptions occur, most of the following are not serious and can be treated in a primary care or urgent care setting:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Colds
  • Cough
  • Flu
  • Lice
  • Sore throat
  • Pink eye
  • Pregnancy or STD tests
  • Sprains
  • Sinus infections
  • Earaches

Whether it’s the ER, your PCP or another alternative, there’s a correct option for every ailment. It’s just a matter of knowing—and choosing—the right one.

PinnacleHealth Medical Group is accepting new patients at its east and west shore locations. To find the one closest to your home or office, call 231-8900 or visit

For more information about walk-in care options and finding the right care for you, visit

PinnacleHealth Nurse Advice team can be reached at 1-866-9-NURSE1 (1-866-968-7731).

Author: Christina Persson

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