Pro Spotlight: Austin Emergency Center

In case you couldn't make our Healthy Living seminar last week (more on that later!), you missed out on some great information!  This month's Pro Spotlight is from Austin Emergency Center, and the fabulous Dr. Okem Okpara was a member of our expert panel last Friday.  Here is what Austin Emergency Center has to say about healthcare in Austin

How has healthcare access changed in Austin over the past few years?

It's no secret that Austin is growing and expanding. With the rise in the cost of living, many people are seeking homes in the suburbs which puts them further away from hospitals and emergency rooms. That has resulted in the expansion of medical facilities available to Austinites. Hospitals are opening up micro-hospitals in lesser populated areas to increase patient access to care and you'll also notice an increase in the number of urgent care facilities and free-standing emergency rooms in those areas as well. The rise in freestanding emergency rooms throughout Austin has led to faster access to medical care.  With our exploding population, the need was there for “no wait access to care”.

What resources are out there that women should be aware of?

Programs through the Texas Department ofState Health Services are aimed at helping women with family planning as well as provide breast and cervical cancer screenings. Since cancer is one of the top three causes of death among women, these services are made available to everyone at a low cost. Additionally, they provide mental health screenings that can help women who are struggling with depression, which is common. All of the services as DSHS are confidential and are a great resources. 

How is a freestanding ER center different than a traditional emergency room or an urgent care facility?

Austin Emergency Center differs from an urgent care center in that most urgent care centers are designed to handle non-life-threatening medical complaints. An urgent care facility is much like a doctor’s office with extended hours. Urgent care clinics are often staffed by physician extenders who are generally not trained in triaging critical trauma patients. If a patient goes to an urgent care clinic with a life threatening emergency, the patient will be redirected to EMS or 911. In contrast, Austin Emergency Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and staffed with trained emergency room doctors. Our emergency centers are equipped, similar to those of large hospitals, offering onsite imaging services like CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasound. We also have in-house laboratory services and are equipped and staffed to handle a full range of emergencies, 24/7.

What are some common precautions we can take to avoid visits?

For women under the age of 44, the most common cause for death according to the CDC after unintentional injuries, is suicide. It's important that women monitor their mental health and seek counseling and/or drug therapy if they feel depressed, prior to reaching a point of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. After age 45, there is a shift in the major causes of death. The top four are: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and pneumonia. Women should be diligent in checking frequently and controlling their blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, while avoiding tobacco. Additionally, women should make sure that they do self-breast exams frequently in the shower, do their yearly women's exams to check for cervical cancer, and do cancer checks on their colon yearly. Though not talked about frequently, it is okay to enjoy your wine nights with your friends, but make sure that you are not abusing alcohol because it can result in liver disease.

Can freestanding ER centers facilitate pediatric care/emergencies?

Absolutely! Freestanding emergency rooms are just like hospital emergency rooms and are equipped with pediatric supplies and capabilities. All of our facilities are staffed with emergency room trained doctors who did rotations in pediatric departments and are certified in pediatric emergency care. Each of our emergency centers has a pediatric care room designed especially for children and their family to reduce their fear and anxiety while being treated.  We love children!

Thank you to Austin Emergency Center for this fantastic information.  Check back in soon for a full recap of our Healthy Living seminar.